China has banned drug wholesalers from selling vaccines, Xinhua reported Monday, after a scandal in which about $90 million worth of illegal vaccines was suspected of being sold in dozens of provinces.
China is pushing ambitious healthcare reforms to improve its locally made medicines, but the vaccine scandal underscores the challenge facing the world’s second-largest drug market in regulating its fragmented supply chain.
The new rules, signed by Premier Li Keqiang and adopted on Saturday, toughen requirements for distribution of non-compulsory vaccines, according to the report.
They require county health officials to get the vaccines directly from manufacturers before sending them to hospitals, instead of going through wholesalers, it added.
Hospitals, clinics and government health authorities must also keep better records of purchases and inventory, with regular monitoring of vaccine temperatures, records of which hospitals must request upon receiving the vaccines.
The rules hike fines for improper handling of vaccines, and prescribe the sacking of government officials guilty of violations, Xinhua said.
The government plans to set up an electronic vaccine tracking system, it added, but gave no details yet.
Chinese authorities punished hundreds of officials in the aftermath of the vaccine scandal, which involved millions of illegal trades of vaccines through a black-market drugs ring and ignited public anger.