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China: A new law could let Chinese vaccine victims sue

15 Nov, 2018
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China is planning a new law that would allow people to sue drug makers for punitive damages in cases of death or serious illness caused by faulty vaccines.

The draft Vaccine Management Law, posted online for public consultation on Sunday night, follows the country’s largest-ever vaccine safety scandal earlier this year.

Currently, if it is proved that a correctly made and stored vaccine caused adverse health effects, victims can qualify for compensation. But there is no provision for people who are injured by substandard vaccines – a problem which has become an increasingly public issue in China.

China has been hit by a string of vaccine safety scandals in recent years, although there have no officially confirmed reports of deaths or serious injuries caused by faulty vaccines.

“This is the first time punitive damages have been introduced in civil cases relating to health,” said Zhu Yonggen, a Beijing-based medical lawyer.

A history of falsehood
In July, China’s second-largest rabies vaccine maker Changchun Changsheng Life Sciences was found to have falsified its production records, used out-of-date materials, mixed different batches of products and failed to test them properly.
Fourteen company executives and staff members were detained over the scandal and senior officials were sacked.
Although the company was fined $1.3 billion and ordered to set up a compensation scheme to pay victims up to $94,000 each, demands for tougher regulations have been mounting.
Only a few days later, another major drug maker was found to have sold hundreds of thousands of inferior DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) vaccines.
In 2017, it emerged that $82 million of improperly stored or expired vaccines had been illegally sold across the country for years.

Discussing the proposed new legislation, the State Administration for Market Regulation said past scandals had exposed numerous flaws in supervision and in vaccine production and distribution.

The new legislation is designed to establish a long-term supervision system, and also allows patients and families to sue vaccine makers and distributors for punitive damages if they knowingly sell faulty vaccines that cause death or serious illness.

The new law additionally threatens firms with the loss of their licenses, fines worth up to 10 times the value of the products in question, and harsh punishments for individuals involved in faking data or interfering with investigations.

 

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 15th, 2018 at 1:50 pm and is filed under Latest News.

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Baalen, S. van. 2018 Research Ethics 14(4), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1177/1747016117750312

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