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Duo handed prison terms over illegal vaccine trade

By Wang Xiaodong | China Daily | Updated: 2017-01-25 07:59

A woman and her daughter were handed prison terms on Tuesday after being convicted of selling vaccines without a license in Shandong province, according to a local court.

Pang Hongwei was sentenced to 15 years in prison for illegally purchasing vaccines-including rabies vaccines, which she stored in warehouses in Jinan and Liaocheng-and then selling them to clients in the province and other parts of the country between June 2013 and April 2015, according to the Jinan Intermediate People's Court.

Pang improperly stored the vaccines she bought, and sold vaccines with a total sales value of nearly 75 million yuan ($11 million), the court said.

Pang was not a first-time offender. In 2009, she was sentenced to three years in prison with a five-year probation period for illegally trading vaccines in Heze, Shandong. However, the case was retried, as required by the provincial high people's court, and in April last year, her sentence was extended to six years in prison without probation.

The intermediate court ruled that Pang will serve a total of 19 years in prison for her offenses in the two cases.

Sun Qi, Pang's daughter, was sentenced to six years in prison for assisting her mother and for her involvement in the sale of vaccines worth more than 42 million yuan.

The pair were caught by the police on April 28, 2015. The next day, police found vaccines worth nearly 700,000 yuan stored in the warehouse of a towel factory in Jinan.

Storing vaccines improperly, such as at the wrong temperature, can affect their potency and result in potential health risks, experts from the World Health Organization said following the incident.

A total of 324 suspects involved in the case were arrested, and 100 officials were placed under investigation for suspected duty-related crimes, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

The vaccines involved in the scandal were Category Two vaccines, which are optional and users must pay for them. The management of such vaccines is not as strict as for Category One vaccines, which governments provide for free.

Following the scandal, the central government approved a revised regulation on the management of vaccines that took effect immediately. The new regulation intensifies management rules for all vaccines, including their transportation and storage.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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