Vaccines made in China – another ridiculous anti-vax myth

One of the most ridiculous myths of the anti-vaccine world is that vaccines made in China dominate the US market. I took a look at every vaccine licensed for use in America to determine where they are manufactured. Spoiler alert – none are made in China.

I didn’t even know this was an anti-vaccine myth until recently. But once I looked into the topic, it was clearly prevalent in the anti-vaccine world. Many vaccines are manufactured in the USA, but the remainder are made in Canada, Japan and Europe.

Here’s a list of the most important vaccines licensed in the United States with their location of manufacture.

  • ActHIB (Haemophilus b or Hib) – manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur SA in Marcy L’Etoile, France
  • Adacel (tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis, known as Tdap) – manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur Limited in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Bexsero (Meningococcal B) – manufactured by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics S.r.l. (now owned by GlaxoSmithKline), Bellaria-Rosia, Sovicille (SI), Italy
  • Boostrix (Tdap) – manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals in Rixensart, Belgium and Marburg, Germany
  • Daptacel (diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis, known as DTaP) – manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur Limited in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Energix-B (hepatitis B) – manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals in Rixensart, Belgium
  • Fluarix Quadrivalent (influenza ) – manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals in Dresden, Germany
  • Flublock Quadrivalent (influenza) – manufactured by Protein Sciences Corporation in the USA
  • FluMist (intranasal influenza) – manufactured by MedImmune, LLC in the USA
  • Fluzone (influenza) – manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. in the USA
  • Fluzone High Dose (influenza) – manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. in the USA
  • Gardasil9 (human papilloma virus, HPV) – manufactured by Merck & Co., Inc., in the USA
  • Havrix (hepatitis A) – manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals in Rixensart, Belgium
  • HIBERIX (Hib) – manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals in Rixensart, Belgium.
  • Infanrix (DTaP) – manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals in Rixensart, Belgium and Marburg, Germany
  • IPOL (inactivated poliovirus, or IPV) – manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur SA in Marcy L’Etoile, France
  • IXARIO (Japanese encephalitis) –  Manufactured by Valneva Austria in Livingston, UK
  • JE-Vax (Japanese encephalitis) – Manufactured by The Research Foundation for Microbial Diseases of Osaka University in Osaka, Japan. Distributed by Sanofi Pasteur in the USA.
  • Menactra (Meningococcal groups A, C, Y, W-135) – Manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. in the USA.
  • MMR- II (measles, mumps, and rubella, or MMR) – manufactured by Merck & Co, Inc. in the USA
  • Pediarix (DTap, IPV, Hepatitis B) – manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals in Rixensart, Belgium and Marburg, Germany
  • PedvaxHIB (Hib) – manufactured by Merck & Co., Inc., in the USA
  • Pneumovax 23 (23-valent pneumococcal) – manufactured by Merck & Co., Inc., in the USA
  • Prevnar 13 (13-valent pneumococcal) – manufactured by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in the USA
  • ProQuad (MMR plus chickenpox) – manufactured by Merck & Co, Inc. in the USA
  • Recombivax HB (hepatitis B) – manufactured by Merck & Co, Inc. in the USA
  • ROTARIX (rotavirus) – manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals in Rixensart, Belgium
  • RotaTeq (rotavirus) – manufactured by Merck & Co, Inc. in the USA
  • TRUMENBA (meningococcal B) – manufactured by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in the USA
  • Twinrix (hepatitis A and hepatitis B) – manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals in Rixensart, Belgium
  • VAQTA (hepatitis A) – manufactured by Merck & Co, Inc. in the USA
  • Zostavax (zoster or shingles) – manufactured by Merck & Co, Inc. in the USA

(Note – many vaccines manufactured in the USA are also manufactured in Europe for marketing in that region. However, unless specifically mentioned, European versions of vaccines are not sold in the USA.)

As you can see, there are no vaccines made in China. None.

Irrespective of the location of manufacture, the FDA states that vaccines:

…undergo a rigorous review of laboratory and clinical data to ensure the safety, efficacy, purity and potency of these products. Vaccines approved for marketing may also be required to undergo additional studies to further evaluate the vaccine and often to address specific questions about the vaccine’s safety, effectiveness or possible side effects.

Clearly, some anti-vaccine radical will make unsubstantiated claims that this system doesn’t work, or Big Pharma buys off the FDA (with around 10% of drugs approved by the FDA, this seems like a specious claim).

Of course, the implied racism about whether vaccines made in China would be inherently bad, if any were actually imported here, belies the fact that China makes almost all of our high quality electronics and other products. Part of it is because companies set extremely high standards for those products, as they would do in pharmaceutical manufacturing.

But with the extremely high cost of building state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities for vaccines, I doubt any of the international vaccine manufacturers would endure the expense of a China-based manufacturing facility, unless it were to serve the Chinese market. And no, pharmaceutical manufacturers cannot mix vaccines made in the USA with those made in Germany or China. The Package Insert must clearly state the location of manufacture (if it’s outside of the USA), and the FDA has to approve that location through a thorough inspection.

So, can we dispense of the vaccines made in China myth? I’m not naive, but at least we have real evidence that none are made there.

Note: I think I covered every vaccine recommended for adults and children. If I missed one you think I should add, drop a comment. If you have more updated information about vaccine manufacturing location, drop a comment. 

 
 
The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor

Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!