BEIJING: Two deputy Chinese provincial governors and a mayor were fired Thursday by the ruling Communist Party after revelations of misconduct by a major producer of anti-rabies vaccine triggered a public outcry.
The firings were announced following a meeting of the party’s ruling Standing Committee led by President Xi Jinping. The government is scrambling to defuse public outrage that has been fueled by revelations regulators found possible misconduct last year but failed to take action.
The revelation in July that Changchun Changsheng Life Sciences Ltd. falsified vaccine production records added to a string of politically damaging scandals over deaths and injuries due to fake or shoddy drugs, food and other products.
Those fired Thursday included two deputy governors of Jilin province in China’s northeast, where the drug maker is located, and the mayor of its home city of Changchun. Also fired were two provincial officials in charge of drug regulation.
Changsheng Life Sciences’ CEO and 14 other officials were reportedly detained by police earlier.
There have been no reports of injuries, but authorities impounded vaccines and suspended production at the company’s plant. They announced a recall of products from foreign markets but gave no details of where those were.
The country’s No. 2 leader, Premier Li Keqiang, ordered a nationwide investigation of China’s vaccine industry following the disclosures.
Later disclosures showed the company blended expired fluid into vaccines as early as April 2014.
The government has set up a panel of experts to review vaccine safety in China’s $122 billion-a-year pharmaceutical industry.