China police probe vaccine maker Changsheng Bio

"A firm determination should be mustered to improve the country's vaccine management system, and utmost efforts should be made to protect the people's interests, social security and stability", he said.

A vaccine scandal in China, which has prompted angry reactions from citizens fed up with safety scares, is sending ripples across the local drug market and threatening Chinese ambitions to play a larger role in the global pharmaceutical arena. The post was widely shared and was censored by Sunday even as Chinese leaders launched a public relations response. It was among the most hotly discussed topics on microblogging website Sina Weibo on Monday.

Shenzhen-listed company Changsheng Biotechnology was found during an unannounced inspection last week to have falsified data for its rabies vaccine, prompting a recall, cancellation of its licence for the drug and an investigation.

According to official news agency Xinhua, Xi termed "the illegal production of vaccines by Changchun Changsheng Life Sciences Limited as disgusting and appalling".

He called the illegal production of vaccines by Jilin Province-based Changchun Changsheng Life Sciences "hideous and appalling".

A woman receives a vaccination shot against rabies at the Disease Control and Prevention Center in Huaibei in China's eastern Anhui province on Tuesday. Every child inoculated with the drug as well as all unused doses have now been identified. The 252,600 doses were sold to the Shandong public health authority and although no cases of ill-health have been reported, the incidents have further eroded trust in a sector that has regularly been shaken by scandals.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has vowed stern action over the scandal as drug stocks tumbled on Monday.

"The vaccine case has crossed a moral line, and the nation deserves a clear explanation", Li was quoted as saying in a statement.

President Xi Jinping echoed those remarks, while police in Changchun, a city in northeastern China, announced that the company's chief executive and four other executives had been placed under investigation.

On the other hand, Changsheng has apologized for its actions and said the company was guilty and embarrassed. It has issued a statement expressing its "deepest apologies" and has promised to learn from its mistakes.

For their mistake, Changsheng was fined 3,442,887 yuan ($507,843) by the Chinese government.

The furore over alleged shady dealings by a major vaccine producer has shattered already fragile trust in regulators and illustrated the rising frustrations of China's increasingly sophisticated consumers. Alongside Changsheng, Shenzhen Kangtai Biological is also down to ¥52.16 from ¥71.02 before the scandal broke and Walvax Biotechnology similarly suffering a drop from ¥21.67 to ¥18.92.

After a brief trading halt, shares of Changchun Changsheng's parent company also fell by the 10 per cent limit.

It was just the latest in a series of health and safety scandals which have fuelled fear over the safety of basic food and medicine and anger at regulators asleep on the job.

Separately, authorities in Hebei province near Beijing announced on Monday that almost 150,000 people had received a substandard diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine made by another firm, Wuhan Institute of Biological Products.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a safety alert for some blood pressure and heart medications, if their active ingredient valsartan was produced by China's Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals. Another company, Wuhan Institute of Biological Products Co.

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