More than 12,000 Chinese blood plasma products recalled in HIV scare; conflicting reports emerge

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Thousands of blood plasma products sold by a Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical company were reported to be contaminated with HIV this week, although a statement from another state body subsequently presented conflicting information about the status of the samples.

Key points:

  • The treatment was produced by China’s second-largest blood product manufacturer
  • The company announced that it was informed that the samples were positive
  • A state body later released an unverifiable report that they were negative

According to state media and provincial government reports, more than 12,000 units of plasma were recalled after products in the same batch tested positive for the virus.

The batch of intravenous immunoglobulin was produced by Shanghai Xinxing Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., the country’s second-largest blood product manufacturer.

Immunoglobulins, also known as antibodies, are produced by plasma cells to fight pathogens in the body.

Intravenous immunoglobulin therapy is often used to treat immune disorders caused by illnesses such as leukaemia, or acute inflammation and chemotherapy infections.

The announcement was also confirmed by Shanghai Xinxing Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd’s parent company China Meheco Group in an online statement.

However, China’s National Medical Products Administration denied the positive result one day after the company’s confirmation, stating that additional tests conducted for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C with the affected blood products “turned negative”.

The statement that was published by the state-owned National Business Daily was reported by observers to have been censored soon after.

The ABC approached the China Meheco Group and various government bodies for clarification but was not able to receive a response — most government offices and companies are currently closed in China due to Lunar New Year public holiday.

The case is the latest medical scandal originating from China.

In July last year, the Chinese Food and Drug Administration found vaccine manufacturer Changseng Biotechnology had violated standards in the production of a rabies vaccine.

Eighteen people were reportedly arrested on suspicion of producing and selling substandard drugs.

By Tasha Wibawa and Bang Xiao
ABC

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