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China investigates vaccine maker after baby deaths


December 24. 2013 1:35AM
Associated Press



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(AP) China sent health experts to investigate a drug maker Tuesday to see if the deaths of several babies in recent weeks were related to vaccines they received in a government immunization program.


A team of government investigators has been sent to Biokangtai, a drug maker based in the southern city of Shenzhen, state broadcaster China Central Television said, amid growing public concern about the safety of its products.


Repeated calls to Biokangtai's Shenzhen headquarters were disconnected after a few rings.


The probe was launched after provincial and health authorities separately reported that since November, around a half-dozen babies died shortly after they received hepatitis B vaccines made by Biokangtai. One case has been ruled out as being caused by the vaccine while the others were still being investigated.


Hepatitis B is a chronic liver infection that is spread through the blood or bodily fluids of infected people. It can cause liver inflammation and jaundice.


Chinese health authorities suspended the use of Biokangtai's hepatitis B vaccines last Friday after the first deaths of babies were reported.


Four babies reportedly died in the southern province of Guangdong although one of them was said to have died from pneumonia. The National Health and Family Planning Commission reported that two babies in Hunan province and another in Sichuan had also died in a similar way.


Associated Press


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