In 2018 there were 66 UK investigations into the suspicious supply of hepatitis B vaccine after claims that vials were given to patients by hospital staff without consulation
A record number of cases of suspicion of fraudulent supply of vaccines, including those involving vaccine against hepatitis B, have been reported by healthcare authorities in England and Wales.
According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), there were 66 investigations into suspected fraudulent supply or supply between April 2014 and June 2018. However, the agency did not put a number on the figure, as investigations are still ongoing.
It was the highest number of investigations made by the MHRA to date since 2011. The year before, there were 10 reports of suspected fraud.
In the first nine months of last year, clinical investigations led to 11 individuals being charged with a range of offences including theft and fraud.
In November, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said it had arrested a parent and nine children involved in a row over the supply of measles, mumps and rubella vaccines.
The MHRA said the reasons behind the rise in cases of suspected fraudulent supply of vaccines are unclear but have come under intense scrutiny since the deaths of six people who received contaminated measles immunisation in Ireland in 2007.
In 2016 the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that there were more than 200m valid immunisation waivers (VIs) (mandatory vaccine certificates) from the national vaccine records of 10 to 34 years old in the world. This represented about a quarter of the total global stock of VIs.
A spokesperson for the MHRA said: “MHRA will continue to raise concerns with the public about fraudulent supply of vaccines as long as they are illegal. We will report these cases as soon as we can.”