On Sunday night, a draft of the “Vaccine Management Law” was posted online for the public. If passed, the new law will allow people to sue drug makers for punitive damages in cases of death or serious illness caused by faulty vaccines. Due to multiple vaccine safety scandals in the country (a major drug maker was found to have sold 400,520 inferior DPT vaccines and 570 million yuan of improperly stored or expired vaccines were illegally sold across the country for years), the new legislation “is designed to establish a long-term supervision system by integrating articles from different pieces of legislation,” 1 and will allow “patients and families to sue vaccine makers and distributors for punitive damages if they knowingly sell faulty vaccines that cause death or serious illness.”2
This is unprecedented in China. And perhaps the world. And it’s about time.
Under current law, if a vaccine is proved to have caused adverse health effects, victims are liable for compensation (which varies depending on the economic status of where the vaccine is administered) from the local health authority. However, if the vaccine was part of a national immunization programme or from the drug makers, victims get nothing.