Defendants at the court hearing in January, 2016. — VNA/VNS Photo Mạnh Linh
HÀ NỘI — Twelve defendants involved in the manufacture and trade of counterfeit cancer treatment medicines at Việt Nam Pharma Joint Stock Company (VN Pharma) have been prosecuted by the Supreme People's Procuracy of Việt Nam, the Vietnam News Agency has reported.
The accused include Nguyễn Minh Hùng, VN Pharma’s former general director, Phan Xuân Thiện, VN Pharma’s former deputy general director and Võ Mạnh Cường, former director of H&C International Maritime Company.
The indictment of the Supreme People's Procuracy also showed that the value of the drug batch was only US$251,000 but the defendants intentionally raised it to $572,000.
The price increase of $321,000 was transferred to two overseas accounts of Auspicious Keen Limited and Sigma Holding Corp both located at 132 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. They later received money back in Việt Nam.
The procuracy also asked the investigating agency to further clarify responsibilities of the Drug Administration of Việt Nam, VN Pharma and other individuals involved in the case.
According to the investigation, from 2013 to 2014, Hùng ordered Cường to purchase imported medicines reportedly manufactured by Canada’s Helix Pharmaceuticals Company and supply the drugs to Vietnamese hospitals.
The batch included 9,300 boxes of 500mg caplets of H-Capita, a cancer treatment drug valued at VNĐ5.3 billion ($251,000).
Hùng asked his staff to forge documents related to the medicines and submit them to the administration.
The company also faked receipts and payment procedures to acquire import licences from the ministry.
Suspicious of the origin of the batch, the administration launched an investigation in April 2014.
Up to 97 per cent of the imported batch was then found to consist of low-quality capecitabine, a chemotherapy drug of unknown origin and not licensed for use in treatment.
The Ministry of Public Security started legal proceedings in November 2015.
At the first trial in August 2017, Hùng and Cường were sentenced to 12 years in prison for smuggling.
Seven others received sentences of two to five years behind bars for smuggling and faking documents and seals of organisations.
Hùng and Cường then appealed against the court’s judgment.
In September 2017, HCM City People’s Procuracy protested the judgment, asking for clarification on Hùng’s charge and the alleged irresponsibility of the administration which allowed Hùng and his accomplices to import fake drugs and give commissions to doctors to prescribing the drug.
According to the agency, Hùng’s charge should have been “manufacturing and/or trading in fake goods claiming to be curative medicines, preventive medicines”.
In January 2019, Thiện and Hoàng Trúc Vy, former employee of the company’s Research and Development Department were detained.
According to investigation, Thiện knew the origin of the batch and the seal of Canada’s Helix Pharmaceuticals Company were fake but he still let Hùng legalise the medicine for consumption.
He also helped Hùng by asking Vy to hire a pharmacist named Phạm Văn Thông to write a technical file for the drug. — VNS