Court upholds sentences for defendants in fake medicine case hinh anh 1Nguyen Minh Hung, former general director of Vietnam Pharma Joint-Stock Company, at the High-level People's Court in HCM City on May 20 (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) - The High-level People’s Court in Ho Chi Minh City on May 20 upheld the verdict handed down at the first-instance trial in a case involving the “manufacturing and trading of counterfeit medicine”.

At the first-instance trial, Nguyen Minh Hung, former Chairman of the Board of Directors and General Director of the Vietnam Pharma Joint Stock Company (VN Pharma), was sentenced to 17 years in prison, and Vo Manh Cuong, former Director of the H&C International Maritime Trading Co., Ltd, to 20 years.

Both faced charges of “manufacturing and trading counterfeit medicines for treatment or prevention of diseases” under Article 157 of the Penal Code 1999.

The remaining 10 defendants were sentenced from 3-12 years in prison. Hung did not appeal after the first-instance trial. 

However, seven of the 12 defendants in the case, including Cuong, filed an appeal against the verdict reached at the first-instance trial. 

Cuong said he did not play a mastermind role as mentioned in the first-instance verdict and that he did not know the drugs were counterfeit. 

But the High-level People’s Procuracy in HCM City rejected the contention, saying Cuong directly contacted people who made counterfeit drugs and asked for permission to import the batch of fake drugs.

According to the People’s Procuracy, the wrongful acts of the defendants were dangerous to society and the sentence at the first-instance trial was “lawful and appropriate”.

VN Pharma was established in October 2011 with capital of 25 billion VND (1.075 million USD), rising to 40 billion VND in 2014. Hung owns most of the shares. 

Since its operation, the company has imported various kinds of drugs. 

From 2013 to 2014, Hung ordered Cuong to buy imported medicine that was 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 5.3 billion VND.

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

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

In April 2014, the Drug Administration of Vietnam 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 percent of the active ingredient capecitabine, which is of unknown origin and poor quality, and must not be used as a medicine for humans.

The Procuracy said Hung’s actions caused damage of more than 6 billion VND (255,320 USD) to VN Pharma./.