|Nguyễn Minh Hùng, former chairman and director-general of VN Pharma. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HCM CITY — An appeal trial looking into the trade of counterfeit cancer drugs at Việt Nam Pharma (VN Pharma) JSC commenced on Monday in HCM City.
Nguyễn Minh Hùng, former chairman and director-general of VN Pharma, considered one of the two people at the heart of the case, did not appeal his 17-year sentence, but attended the hearing for his involvement with other defendants.
Vũ Mạnh Cường, director of H&C International Maritime Trading Co Ltd and a former employee of VN Pharma, allegedly acted as middle-man for the sale of fake drugs to VN Pharma. He is appealing a sentence of 20 years in jail.
Both faced charge of the crime "Manufacturing and trading of counterfeit medicines for treatment or prevention of diseases" under Việt Nam's Penal Code.
From 2013-14, the pair and 10 other accomplices were alleged to have faked a range of documents – including Free Sale Certificates (FSC) and Canada’s Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certificate, fake seals from the Vietnamese embassy in Canada, and fabricating contracts and licences with a company in Hong Kong to import of 9,300 boxes of cancer drugs H-Capita 500mg that VN Pharma advertised as being made in Canada.
The ten accomplices were handed sentences ranging from 3-12 years in jail.
Seven defendants in the case, including Cường, have filed for appeal against the verdicts reached at the first-instance trial that concluded in October last year.
According to the procuracy, VN Pharma won a bidding package to supply these drugs to big hospitals across the country.
The procuracy said Hùng’s actions caused damage of more than VNĐ6 billion (US$258,000) to VN Pharma. Cancer patients may have been subjected to the risks of being administered fake drugs if the violations had not been discovered in time, thus affecting their health and even life.
A health ministry delegation was sent to India to verify the origin of the drugs and argued last September that the imported packages were from India but they were not fake, they were merely lower-quality with questionable contaminants.
The entire shipment was intercepted by Vietnamese customs authorities.
However, the delegation’s trip to India was conducted independently by the health ministry outside of the case’s legal proceedings, so the court did not consider the findings.
The trial is expected to last three days. — VNS