|Defendants at the court hearing. — VNA/VNS Photo Mạnh Linh|
HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Public Security’s Investigation Police Agency announced it had detained Phan Xuân Thiện, former deputy director of Việt Nam Pharma Joint Stock Company, and Hoàng Trúc Vy, former employee of the company’s Research and Development Department, for allegedly manufacturing and trading counterfeit medicines.
Initial investigations showed that Thiện knew the origins of the batch of drugs and the seal of Canada’s Helix Pharmaceuticals Company were fake.
However, he still let Nguyễn Minh Hùng, former chairman of Board of Directors and general director of the company and subordinates perform acts of legalising the drugs for consumption, leading to serious violations of law.
He also asked Vy to hire Phạm Văn Thông, a pharmacist, to write a technical file for the medicine to legalise it for consumption.
The case has stirred outrage from the public. From 2013 to 2014, Hùng ordered Võ Mạnh Cường, director of H&C International Maritime Company, to purchase imported medicines reportedly manufactured by Canada’s Helix Pharmaceuticals Company and supply the drugs to Vietnamese hospitals.
This included 9,300 boxes of 500mg caplets of H-Capita, a cancer treatment drug. The consignment was worth around VNĐ5.3 billion (US$230,000).
Hùng ordered his staff to fake documents related to the drugs and submit them to the Drug Administration of Việt Nam, under the Ministry of Health. Việt Nam Pharma also faked receipts and payment procedures to acquire import licences from the ministry.
In April 2014, the Drug Administration of Việt Nam was suspicious of the origin of the drugs and decided to inspect the company’s shipments.
According to the ministry’s assessment, 97 per cent of the imported batch consisted of low-quality capecitabine, a chemotherapy drug, of unknown origin and not licensed for use in treatment.
In November 2015, the Ministry of Public Security started legal proceedings in the case.
On August 25, 2017, at the first trial, Hùng and Cường were sentenced to 12 years in prison for smuggling.
Seven others were sentenced to between two and five years in jail on smuggling and counterfeiting documents and seals of agencies and organisations.
However, on October 30, 2017, the High-level People’s Court of HCM City decided to annul all previous judgments as the conclusions of quality inspection of medicine had many contradictions, which were not in accordance with the provisions of law. According to the court, charging the defendants with smuggling was not appropriate. The court also requested further investigation into some related individuals. — VNS