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China detains 15 people in vaccine scandal

Beijing

THE Chinese authorities have arrested 15 people including the chairwoman of a rabies vaccine producer under fire for fraudulent quality control in the country's latest drug-safety scandal.

News that pharmaceutical manufacturer Changchun Changsheng Biotechnology had fabricated records and was ordered to cease production of rabies vaccines has revived deep consumer unease over product safety in the country, fuelled by recurring scandals over the years.

The authorities in the north-eastern city of Changchun, where the company is based, have arrested 15 people including the company's chairwoman on "suspicion of criminal offences", city police announced late on Tuesday. The announcement did not give the chairwoman's full name but she has previously been identified as Gao Junfang.

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The China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) said last week that the problematic rabies vaccine had not left Changsheng's factory, but the company admitted it had shipped a separate sub-standard vaccine.

That vaccine for diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus was found by regulators to fail quality standards, but the company revealed that it sold 250,000 doses to Shandong province last year. AFP