Last year, it was revealed that China was home to a deadly vaccine sales ring with hundreds of suspects — some of whom were even doctors. So far, it seems that only two people have received jail time for their involvement in the black market vaccine trade of selling spoiled, toxic inoculations. It’s been estimated that around $90 million worth of illegal trading took place, and that there are hundreds of participants still on the loose.
Earlier in 2017, it was announced that a court in China, located in the city of Jinan, had sentenced a pair of individuals for selling vaccines without a license. Pang Hongwei was sentenced to 15 years for illegally purchasing vaccines, and was given another six years for a previous accusation of illegally trading the inoculations. Pang was also imprisoned for a similar crime in 2009; she was convicted and sentenced to three years in jail for illegally selling vaccines. Back then, Pang had only made an estimated $763,358 from her black market trading. This time around she managed to earn quite a bit more cash, and Chinese citizens are angered that the government “allowed” her to commit the same crime again.
She allegedly earned over $10 million through her illegal actions. Sources say Pang did not store the vaccines properly, and was housing them in warehouses located in Jinan and another city, before distributing them across the nation.
Pang’s daughter, Sun Qi, was sentenced to six years for assisting her mother with her black market vaccine trade. According to CNBC, Pang was a former doctor, and her daughter was a medical school graduate.
Last year, Chinese authorities revealed that they were hunting down over 300 people who were suspected of being connected to the illegal vaccine distribution ring. The vaccines being sold were not just being illegally obtained and traded, but were also spoiled and potentially deadly. While Pang may have made $10 million in US dollars, reports indicate that is really just a small fraction of what the entire trade ring was worth. With an estimated value of at least $88 million, it’s clear that there are still some pretty big fish to fry in the Chinese black market for vaccines.
As CNBC reported, “According to Xinhua News Agency, the suspects sold compromised vaccines, which were neither adequately refrigerated for storage nor transported in approved conditions, to hospitals and disease control centers in at least 24 provinces and municipalities, including Beijing, where they were used over a number of years.” While the illegal trade was not discovered until 2015, the State Public Security Bureau alleges that Pang and her daughter had been profiting from the vaccine ring since at least 2010. And if that’s how long authorities think it’s been going on for, there’s a fair chance that the illegal vaccine trade started well before then. (RELATED: Read more stories about the dangers of immunizations at Vaccines.news)
Police in China reportedly conducted over 20 raids across the country in an effort to track down the illegally traded products, as well the suspects involved during 2016. At the time, authorities were not able to estimate exactly how many of the black market vaccines had been sold. Some of the compromised vaccines that infiltrated the marketplace in China included rabies, chicken pox, meningitis, and Hepatitis A — fortunately, sources say that none of these appear to be vaccines that are required in mainland China.
While China is home to one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical markets, lack of regulation has caused significant problems within the industry. In addition to the black market vaccine ring, China has also struggled with a counterfeit drug problem. Issues of illegal trade and the production and sale of fake pharmaceuticals have plagued the nation — but this issue with vaccines is exceptionally frightening because the injections could have proved fatal to recipients of the spoiled inoculations. How do we know the vaccines being given to children anywhere are not also compromised?