The former general director of Vietnamese pharmaceutical firm VN Pharma has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for importing and distributing counterfeit cancer medicine.
The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court on Tuesday concluded the week-long trial of Nguyen Minh Hung and 11 other defendants involved in the case.
Hung, 41, former chairman and general director of VN Pharma, was condemned to a 17-year jail term, while Vo Manh Cuong, former director of H&C International Maritime Trading Company, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for trading fake medicine.
Ten other defendants got jail terms ranging from three years to 12 years.
Among them, an employee of VN Pharma was given a three-year suspended term with a probation period of five years.
All of the twelve are also banned from working in pharmaceuticals-related fields for five years after completing their prison terms.
According to the indictment, Hung established VN Pharma in October 2011 and started working with Cuong in 2012 to import H-Capita 500mg, which was said to treat cancer, from Canada into Vietnam.
Cuong acted as an intermediary and helped Hung purchase 9,300 boxes of H-Capita 500mg.
As the supplier in Canada was unable to provide some documents regarding the standards of the drug, Hung had his employee forge the paperwork to legalize the distribution of the product.
VN Pharma had won the bidding at some hospitals in the southern metropolis to be the sole distributor of the cancer medicine.
Hung, Cuong, and their accessories also raised the prices of the drug meant to be supplied to the hospitals, and pocketed more than VND6 billion (US$258,000).
However, the case was discovered by the Drug Administration of Vietnam before the medicine was distributed.
An examination by the Ministry of Health showed that H-Capita 500mg is a low-quality product in which an active ingredient called capecitabine accounts for 97 percent.
The medicine does not have a clear origin and should not be used as medicine for people, it added.
As the defendants had forged the origin of the medicine and related documents, the jury stated they had sufficient evidence to convict them of the illegal trade of counterfeit drugs.
Aside from the jail terms, the defendants were required to return the money they had illicitly pocketed.
All 9,300 boxes of H-Capita 500mg were disposed of in accordance with the law.