Wednesday,  Apr 24, 2019,22:49 (GMT+7) 0 0
Major pharma exec arrested in smuggling case
The Saigon Times Daily
Wednesday,  Jan 16, 2019,19:14 (GMT+7)

Major pharma exec arrested in smuggling case

The Saigon Times Daily

Nguyen Minh Hung (R, 2), former board chairman and general director of Vietnamese pharmaceutical firm VN Pharma, stands at the court in 2017 – PHOTO: VNA

HCMC – Phan Xuan Thien, former deputy general director of Vietnamese pharmaceutical firm VN Pharma, has been arrested for the production and sale of fake drugs, as part of an expanded probe into his company’s fraudulent cancer medicine imports, reported the local media.

The investigative security agency, under the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), launched legal proceedings against Thien and Hoang Truc Vy, a former employee of the company’s research and development division. Vy, indicted on the same charge, was given bail because she is raising a young toddler.

According to the MPS, Thien introduced Vy to a pharmacist, Pham Van Thong, who was hired to create fake technical documents for the imported cancer drug H-Capita 500mg caplet for submission to the Vietnam Drug Administration (VDA), under the Health Ministry.

Thien was accused of being aware that the origin of an imported cancer drug batch and the seal of Canada-based producer Helix Pharmaceuticals Inc. had been forged.

However, he still allowed the company’s then board chairman and general director, Nguyen Minh Hung, and his subordinates legalize the shipment for local distribution.

Hung had ordered the batch of cancer drugs produced by the Canadian firm in 2013. The deal was brokered by Vo Manh Cuong, director of H&C International Trading Shipping Co., Ltd.

As the drug was not purchased directly from the Canadian drug firm, the batch did not have supporting documents to prove its authenticity and quality, leading Hung to commission the set of fake documents to apply for an import license and distribution visa from the VDA.

The VDA, on receiving the fake documents, approved the application, and in April 2014, VN Pharma completed customs procedures to import 9,300 packs of H-Capita 500mg caplet.

After the batch was imported, the VDA grew suspicious of apparent irregularities and referred the case to the police in August 2014.

Investigation results showed that Cuong of H&C had purchased the medicine from a Filipino trader, identified as Raymuldo, at US$18 per pack. He later sold it to Hung for US$27 per pack.

The investigation also found the batch had been stamped in India and then shipped to Singapore before being transported to Vietnam. However, bar codes and other indicators on the medicine packaging showed the drug had not been registered in any country, and all certificates, including the names of the sellers, were fake.

The Ministry of Health later found that the medicine did not have a clear origin, and its quality was low and unsuitable for human use. The value of the smuggled drug batch was over US$250,000.

The license for conducting operations in medicines and raw medical materials in Vietnam had been granted to Helix Canada, but the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security later confirmed that Helix Canada was a bogus firm as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs found no Helix Pharmaceuticals Inc. headquartered at 392 Wilson Ave, Toronto, Canada, the address listed on documents submitted to the VDA.

This means the origin of the H-Capital 500mg caplet imported by VN Pharma is unknown.

During the first hearing in 2017, the HCMC People’s Court sentenced Hung and Cuong to 12 years in prison for smuggling. Seven other defendants were given noncustodial sentences of up to five years for counterfeiting the seals and documents of organizations and agencies, and for smuggling.

However, the HCMC Superior People’s Court later overturned the entire verdict, demanded a new investigation and suggested looking into a number of relevant individuals.

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