HPV vaccine patients, many from mainland China, head to AMH Medical Diagnostic Group clinic in HK after claims that the doses were smuggled into the city

14-May-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Hundreds of patients, mostly from mainland China, who got HPV vaccines at a Hong Kong private clinic swamped the facility on Saturday to cry foul and demand a refund after it was claimed the doses arrived via unauthorised channels.

Some had flown in from far-flung cities to remonstrate with AMH Medical Diagnostic Group.

The company came under investigation on Friday after the sole manufacturer of the vaccine, MSD, claimed it did not supply the Gardasil 9 injections in question.

But a law enforcement source said on Saturday authorities were looking into the provenance of the vaccines after the samples collected from AMH were in fact found to be genuine and to have come from MSD.

As safety concerns mounted, two medical experts said that, as long as the vaccines were from MSD, they would be safe and would at worst have lost their efficacy in the delivery process.

At 3pm, about 100 people were waiting outside an AMH clinic in Jordan. Many of them were from across the border and some carried suitcases. At its biggest, the throng reportedly comprised more than 200 people.

Among them was financial manager Annie Chen, who took a flight from Hangzhou to Hong Kong in an attempt to claim back money she handed over for the shots.

The 29-year-old said she paid HK$7,800 to the clinic upon a friend’s recommendation, and had the first jab in March. She said 30 of her friends in the mainland city had been vaccinated at the clinic.

“I am worried the first shot will have hurt my body,” she said. “I hope the government can step in and help us get a refund and some compensation. We are from Hangzhou, which is far away. Our hotel and air tickets have cost more than HK$10,000.”

Another woman, surnamed Ye and from Guangzhou, was frustrated about the arrangement. She said she and more than 230 others facing the same problem had formed a social media group.

“When we calculate the lowest price [paid by the members of the group], of HK$6,500, if there are 100 people, then it would total more than HK$600,000,” she said.

If the parallel vaccines are made by MSD, the ingredients should be stable

Private obstetrician Kun Ka-yan

Many other mainland women queuing outside the clinic on Saturday expressed concerns about health risks brought by the vaccines suspected to have been brought to Hong Kong from abroad and wanted a full refund.

But experts said there was no real health risk.

Private obstetrician Kun Ka-yan said that if the products were produced by MSD but smuggled into the city then they were unlikely to be harmful.

“If the parallel vaccines are made by MSD, the ingredients should be stable,” he said.

But he cautioned that injecting smuggled vaccines would give a false sense of security to customers, who would think, perhaps wrongly, that they were protected.

William Chui Chun-ming, president of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong, agreed.

“The vaccines are to stimulate your immune system to produce antibodies. If antibodies cannot be produced, it won’t have any side effect,” he said. “It wouldn’t be toxic either.”

But he noted that the vaccines might not have been well handled during transport and storage, and that could lessen their effectiveness.

He added that trading smuggled vaccines and reselling drugs were illegal.

On Friday, the Department of Health and customs officials mounted a joint operation and raided two AMH premises, in Jordan and Kwun Tong.

“During the operation, the Department of Health and the Customs and Excise Department seized relevant evidence, including a small quantity of suspected unregistered pharmaceutical product, for further investigation,” the health authority said in a statement.

“So far, no one was arrested. Investigation is ongoing.”

The Department of Health urged members of the public not to buy or use unregistered pharmaceutical products as their safety and quality are not guaranteed.

All registered pharmaceutical products should carry a Hong Kong registration number on the package, it added.

Customs officials said on Friday they had found no contravention of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance during preliminary investigation, but promised a continuous investigation and appropriate action if evidence of wrongdoing emerged.



Category: Hong Kong

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