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Chinese prosecutors train sights on 100 people in vaccine scandal

A hundred people across China are facing possible criminal charges for abusing their positions in connection with a vaccine distribution scandal, its top prosecution office said on Friday.

An investigation is under way to gather evidence for possible prosecutions related to the discovery of a network of illegal vaccine sales spanning 24 provinces, according to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.

The agency said 297 people suspected of running illegal businesses had been arrested, and charges had been brought against 68 others, all over the same ­scandal.

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A 47-year-old woman from Shandong province was arrested last year and charged in connection with illegal vaccine distribution, involving medicine worth 570 million yuan (HK$661 million) since 2010.

The agency began an investigation into the scandal after it was covered by media and triggered wide public concern in March.

Agency spokesman Wang Songmiao said the inquiry was part of a crackdown launched in March last year on crimes related to the safety of food and drugs.

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The woman at the centre of the case, surnamed Pang, worked as a pharmacist and sold 25 types of improperly stored vaccines for both adults and children beginning in 2010.

At least 300 dealers were found to have either bought or sold the vaccines across the country.

The vaccines, including those for flu, chicken pox, hepatitis A, meningitis and rabies, could be ineffective and put their users’ lives at risk, although no injuries have been reported so far.

The State Council announced in April that 357 officials from 17 provinces had been sacked or demoted for negligence in relation to the scandal.