A Chinese court has sentenced a former official of the country’s Food and Drug Administration to jail over bribes he received to help vaccine manufacturers gain the government's approval for their products.
China's Legal Evening News newspaper said on Tuesday that Yin Hongzhang, who once served as deputy director of the administration's drug testing center, received a 10-year sentence and a fine of about 500,000 yuan over taking bribes from vaccine manufacturers.
The sentence is the latest in a series of verdicts that Chinese courts have issued to punish those involved in a major vaccine scandal that began to rock the East Asian country last year. The case, which emerged in March and hugely angered the Chinese public, involved the improper storage, transport and sale of tens of millions of dollars worth of vaccines, many of them expired.
Yin was arrested in 2015 after prosecutors said he had allegedly taken payouts in relation to efforts by four biotech firms to obtain government permits for a variety of vaccines, including for SARS and avian flu. His wife and son had earlier been sentenced to jail for accepting property and bribes in similar cases.
The Chinese have been very sensitive about the issue of vaccines as many families continue to fiercely protect their offspring in a country that for long limited them to one child.
The highest public fury erupted after it was revealed that the government had suppressed information about the sale of 25 different kinds of expired or improperly stored vaccines worth more than 570 million yuan ($88 million) from 2010. The main suspects in the case, a mother and daughter from Shandong province in eastern China, were arrested in 2015.