The discipline inspection body of the Communist Party of Jilin provincial committee and the supervisory commission of the provincial government have ordered an investigation into and serious punishment of those found responsible for an illegal vaccine production case, Xinhua reported yesterday.
The two watchdogs are reviewing information and public complaints regarding Changchun Changsheng Life Sciences Ltd. and its key personnel.
They also ordered an investigation into possible dereliction of duty among food and drug officials, and vowed stern punishment for those involved.
Meanwhile, a work team has been established to investigate potential corruption during the company’s restructuring, production, and operation processes.
Changchun Changsheng Bio-tech Co. and its parent company, Changsheng Biotech, have been mentioned in at least 10 bribery-related cases in the past decade, according to China Judgment Online, a web-accessible database that discloses court rulings, according to a report by China Daily yesterday.
The judgments in the criminal cases say the company’s employees or distributors paid money to people responsible for buying vaccines, including those working in hospitals or disease control departments at the county or city level, to be given priority in vaccine purchases.
For example, a court in Ningling County, Henan Province, ruled in September that a man surnamed Song, who worked for a disease prevention and control center in Suixian County, had accepted bribes of more than 1 million yuan (US$147,000) from several vaccine makers or agencies since July 2011, including 124,680 yuan from Changchun Changsheng Bio-tech.
Song was sentenced to 18 months in prison for bribery and fined 200,000 yuan, the court information said.
In November, Xiashan District People’s Court in Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province, sentenced a woman in charge of vaccinations at a hospital to 18 months with an 18-month reprieve for bribery after she received illicit profits from the company’s chickenpox vaccine agency.
But in all cases, the companies that paid the bribes were rarely prosecuted, as the amount of money offered was not enough to draw a harsher penalty in accordance with the law, and the company was not the only one to offer a bribe.
Despite being involved in several criminal cases, the company’s recent profits have not been affected. Instead, it rose rapidly, especially after it went public on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.
The company’s 2017 annual report said it earned profits of 566 million yuan, up 33.3 percent year on year. It spent 583 million yuan for sales expenses — accounting for 60 percent of its total expenses. Of that, 442 million yuan was spent on promotion, the report said.