Indonesia fake vaccine discovery follows similar issues in China


Indonesia will revaccinate millions of children and is overhauling its drug oversight after authorities uncovered the same kind of syndicate selling fake vaccines as Chinese authorities discovered several months earlier.

On Friday, authorities ordered the revamping of the agency, which reportedly knew back in 2013 that counterfeit vaccines were being sold in the country, Reuters said. The authorities are still trying to determine the extent of the problem but have arrested 18 people so far and listed more than a dozen health facilities in Jakarta and the island of Java which bought fake booster vaccines for hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.

Indonesia’s Health Minister, Nila Moeloek, told lawmakers the counterfeits likely contained a mix of intravenous fluids and antibiotics, Time reported. While no deaths have been tied to the fakes, authorities acknowledged that the children would not have protection from the diseases. Authorities have promised to revaccinate affected children.

Police uncovered the counterfeiting operation after arresting a pharmacist in Bekasi, near Jakarta, in May for selling drugs without a license, Reuters said. Upon testing, it was determined that the alleged vaccines were bogus.

Earlier this year, China uncovered a mother-daughter operation that had allegedly bought $88 million worth of vaccines over 5 years from manufacturers in China then sold them to health clinics outside official channels. Authorities feared the vaccines had not been stored properly to ensure their safety and effectiveness. China has filed charges against nearly 200 people allegedly involved in the operation and promised to punish hundreds of government officials that were tied to the problem.  

Authorities said they were investigating three companies for making the vaccines, including Shandong Zhaoxin Bio-tech, which previously had its manufacturing certificate revoked. The group reportedly sold vaccines against meningitis, rabies and other illnesses.

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