Former CEO of VN Pharma pleads guilty

The former general director of Viet Nam Pharma Joint Stock Company (VN Pharma), the mastermind behind the import of fake medicine for cancer treatment, yesterday pleaded guilty at the second-instance trial

at the HCM City People’s Court.

Former CEO of VN Pharma pleads guilty
Nguyen Minh Hung, former general director of Viet Nam Pharma Joint Stock Company, at the second-instance trial at the HCM City People’s Court yesterday. Photo: VNE

Nguyen Minh Hung was one of 12 defendants charged with “allegedly manufacturing and trading counterfeit medicines”.

The other defendants include Vo Manh Cuong, former director of H&C International Maritime Trading Co., Ltd, and 10 others.

Hung, 41, told the court that he had created phony documents so that he could import fake cancer drugs for sale.

Hung said that VN Pharma was established in October 2011 with capital of VND25 billion (US$1.07 million), increasing to VND40 billion in 2014. He owns most of the shares.

Since its operation, the company has imported various kinds of drugs, but Hung told the court that he could not remember the exact number of times.

From 2013 to 2014, Hung ordered Cuong to buy imported medicine allegedly manufactured by Canada’s Helix Pharmaceuticals Company and supply the drugs to Vietnamese hospitals.

The order included 9,300 boxes of 500mg capsules of H-Capita, a cancer treatment drug. The consignment was worth around VND5.3 billion.

Hung said he ordered his staff to fake documents related to the drugs and submit them to the Drug Administration of Viet Nam, which operates under the Ministry of Health.

He also faked receipts and payment procedures to acquire import licences from the ministry.

In April 2014, the Drug Administration of Viet Nam questioned the origin of the drugs and decided to inspect the company’s shipments.

The Ministry of Health concluded that the H-Capita 500mg batch contained 97 per cent of the active ingredient capecitabine, which is of unknown origin, of poor quality, and must not be used as a medicine for humans.

In November 2015, the Ministry of Public Security started legal proceedings.

On August 25, 2017, at the first-instance court trial, Hung and Cuong were sentenced to 12 years in prison for “smuggling”.

Seven others were sentenced to between two and five years in jail for smuggling and counterfeiting documents and seals of agencies and organisations.

 

However, on October 30, 2017, the higher-level People’s Court of HCM City decided to annul all previous judgments as the inspections’ conclusions had many contradictions which were not in accordance with the provisions of the law.

According to the court, charging the defendants with smuggling was inappropriate. The court also asked for further investigation of individuals related to the case.

During the investigation, the defendants said they did not know where the drugs were made.

However, based on the documents collected, the Ministry of Public Security discovered that the imported batch of medicines did not originate from Canada.

At the trial, although nearly 200 individuals were summoned, many of them were absent, including Truong Quoc Cuong, deputy health minister who was the director of the ministry’s Drug Administration at the time.

The court trial is expected to last one week. The defendants are being prosecuted under Clause Four Article 157 of the Criminal Code with the highest penalty being the death penalty.

Health ministry accountable

Prior to the second-instance trial, the Ministry of Public Security’s Security Investigation Agency decided to prosecute the criminal case for “lack of responsibility, causing serious consequences” at the ministry’s Drug Administration and relevant agencies.

The Government Inspectorate said the health ministry in charge of medicine management should be held accountable for the scandal, along with the head of the Drug Administration who offered assistance to the minister in the field.

The ministry’s consultancy council and drug appraisers must take responsibility for approving VN Pharma’s seven drug registries and import licences for three types of medicines and a business licence in Vietnam for Helix Company, according to the inspectorate.

The Government Inspectorate demanded that the Health Ministry take measures to deal with collectives and individuals involved in allowing the import of substandard drugs to the country.

The inspectorate’s conclusion has been transferred to the Central Inspection Committee for the latter to decide on the penalties for any high-level officials under the jurisdiction of the Politburo and the Party Secretariat.

12 accused in fake cancer medicine trading case brought to court

12 accused in fake cancer medicine trading case brought to court

The People’s Court of HCM City on September 24 opened the first-instant trial on 12 people accused in the “trading in fake goods being curative medicines” case at the Vietnam Pharma JSC (VN Pharma).  

Health ministry leaders responsible in fake cancer drugs scandal: GI

Health ministry leaders responsible in fake cancer drugs scandal: GI

Government inspectors have found leaders of the Health Ministry responsible for wrongdoings at the ministry which led to the import of thousands of fake cancer medications by the pharmaceutical company VN Pharma.

Former pharma firm exec may face death penalty

Former pharma firm exec may face death penalty

Nguyen Minh Hung, 41, former chairman and general director of Vietnamese pharmaceutical firm VN Pharma, could face the death penalty for trading in fake cancer drugs.  

VNS

 
 
 
 
 
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