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Hepatitis Vaccine Maker Slumps After Baby Deaths: Shanghai Mover

Beijing Tiantan Biological Products Corp. plunged by as much as the 10 percent daily limit in Shanghai trading after media reports linked the company’s hepatitis B vaccine to the death of two infants in China.

Tiantan Biological fell 7.1 percent to 22.36 yuan as of the 11:30 a.m. trading break. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.4 percent.

A newborn baby died on Dec. 23 in Meishan city in southwestern Sichuan province after receiving a hepatitis B vaccine made by Tiantan Biological, the official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday, citing the local health department.

The Chengdu Business Daily reported today that an infant died on Dec. 11 in Pi county after taking the vaccine made by Beijing Tiantan. Investigations are continuing, according to the newspaper.

Six phone calls to four phone numbers listed on Tiantan Biological’s financial statements went unanswered. The company’s after-sales hotline operator, who declined to give her name, said there’s no information to provide regarding whether they had received any calls from parents and hospitals.

Hepatitis B vaccinations were added to China’s national immunization program in 2002 and have been free for all children since 2005, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Chinese government on Dec. 20 suspended the use of all batches of a hepatitis B vaccine made by closely held Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products Co., pending the results of a probe into its role in the death of four infants.

Other Chinese drug makers fell today.

North China Pharmaceutical Co., which makes antibiotics and vitamins, fell 2.6 percent. Hualan Biological Engineering Inc., a producer of human blood proteins, dropped 2 percent in Shenzhen trading, while Guizhou Bailing Group Pharmaceutical Co. slumped 6.4 percent.

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