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Former deputy health minister jailed in fake cancer drug scandal

By Thanh Lam   May 19, 2022 | 05:01 am PT
Former deputy health minister jailed in fake cancer drug scandal
Former Deputy Minister of Health Truong Quoc Cuong (R) at the Hanoi People's Court, May 19, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Danh Lam
Former deputy health minister Truong Quoc Cuong was sentenced to four years in jail for his involvement in a fake cancer drug scandal dating back to 2014.

The Hanoi People’s Court found Cuong guilty of "negligence that results in serious consequences" and sentenced him Thursday. The court also forbade him from holding positions in the field of medicine for three years after finishing his sentence.

Nguyen Minh Hung, former chairman of the management board of Vietnam Pharma JSC, received 18 more years in jail for "manufacturing and trading of counterfeit medicines for treatment or prevention of diseases." Combined with a previous jail sentence of 17 years, his has a cumulative sentence is 30 years, the maximum number of jail time for timed sentences in accordance with Vietnamese law.

Twelve others implicated in the case were sentenced to between 2-20 years in jail.

The sentences are the latest development in the counterfeit drug case involving Vietnam Pharma and the fake drug branded Health 2000 Canada. Cuong has been found guilty of violations that allowed the company to import the fake drug to Vietnam.

According to case files, Hung and Vo Manh Cuong, director of shipping firm H&C, struck a deal to purchase 838,000 packets of the fake drug Health 2000 Canada, worth over VND54 billion ($2.3 million), for import to Vietnam. Both Hung and Cuong altered the drug’s info, price and logo to cheat authorities.

Prosecutors said the case was "especially severe" as it concerned counterfeiting of drugs supposed to cure people, many of them antibiotics for severe conditions. The convicts’ actions have "severely impacted the state’s healthcare policies and the reputation of the field of medicine," they asserted.

They also suggested that the Ministry of Health re-examine its drug approval procedures, especially for foreign drugs. Further investigations should look into any violations that might have been committed by customs authorities, they added.

At the court, Cuong blamed his actions on being "overworked" and "a lack of infrastructure."

 
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