China investigates HIV contamination of 12,000 blood plasma treatments

China investigates HIV contamination of 12,000 blood plasma treatments

HIV virus being released from the surface of an infected cell
HIV virus being released from the surface of an infected cell. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

SHANGHAI: A batch of more than 12,000 blood plasma treatments produced by a state-owned pharmaceutical company in China was found to have been contaminated with HIV.

On Wednesday (Feb 6), the National Health Commission (NHC) said it has instructed medical institutions to cease use of the batch of intravenous immunoglobulin produced by Shanghai Xinxing Pharmaceutical, after it received a report that the batch was tested to be HIV positive.

Immunoglobulins are antibodies produced from blood plasma. The immune system uses immunoglobulins to combat pathogens, and can be used to treat a wide variety of diseases including arthritis and many forms of cancer.

READ: China to crack down on healthcare violations: State media

According to The Beijing News, the tainted batch number 20180610Z comprises 12,229 50ml bottles of plasma, which carry an expiry date of Jun 8, 2021. 

No patients have been reported to have contracted HIV, according to a quote from a representative of Jiangxi Provincial Disease Control Centre.

The NHC, citing experts, said the risk of HIV infection is very low for those who had received the treatment. However, a follow-up monitoring programme has been arranged.

Shanghai Xinxing Pharmaceutical has been instructed to halt production of the product and to initiate an emergency recall.

The batch should be sealed, said the NHC. Related production and inspection records have been sealed as well, pending an on-site investigation by a group of experts sent by the National Medical Products Administration.

A team from the NHC has also been dispatched to Shanghai to supervise and guide related work.

China's healthcare sector has been hit by a number of scandals in recent months.

On Saturday, authorities said they disciplined more than 80 officials linked to a vaccine scandal last year that inflamed public fears over the safety of domestically produced drugs.

Changchun Changsheng Biotechnology - a major Chinese manufacturer of rabies vaccines - was slapped with a US$1.3 billion fine in October after it was found to have fabricated records.

Last month, it was reported in The Global Times that police in China's eastern province of Jiangsu began an investigation after at least 145 children received expired polio vaccines.

Source: CNA/ic

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