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17 Nabbed for Fake Rabies Vaccine
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Seventeen members of a gang involved in the production of a fake rabies vaccine have been detained, police in Heilongjiang Province said on Wednesday.


A total of 227 people have been given the fake medicine, police said, all of who are now being closely observed by local health departments.


The gang, which hails from the northeastern province, is said to have passed off a mixture of starch and water as a genuine vaccine.


Each dose cost about 0.6 yuan (US$0.08) to produce but was sold for up to 130 yuan (US$17.18), police said in their release about the latest developments in the province's largest counterfeit drug case of recent years.


Earlier this week, two gang members were arrested in southwest China's Sichuan Province where 29 people in Lu County - most aged between two and 14 - had been given the bogus drug.


Police in Heilongjiang arrested 15 members of the gang last Friday during a raid on their premises. As well as 10,000 doses of the rabies vaccine, authorities seized 20,250 bottles of a medicine used to treat cardiovascular disease and 211 bottles of blood protein.


In total, police confiscated fake versions of 67 types of pharmaceuticals produced by 53 companies.


Heilongjiang's provincial food and drug administrators said yesterday that the fake rabies vaccine had been detected in Mudanjiang City and also in Yilan and Fangzheng counties. An investigation is ongoing, they said.


Fake vaccines can be fatal for rabies sufferers, who must be properly treated "as soon as possible" after being bitten or scratched by a dog, Hu Jiayuan, a division director with the Shanghai center for disease control and prevention told China Daily yesterday.


Figures from the Ministry of Health show that rabies killed more than 2,000 people in China last year, second only to tuberculosis.


It has also been on the country's deadliest infectious diseases list for 13 of the past 14 months.


(China Daily August 3, 2007)

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