Appeal trial of former deputy minister of health held

The High-Level People’s Court in Hanoi on September 29 held an appeal trial over the trading of counterfeit medicine labelled as Health 2000 Canada involving former Deputy Minister of Health Truong Quoc Cuong.

Cuong filed an appeal for a reduced sentence. Earlier, he was given four years in jail in the first-instance trial for "lack of responsibilities causing serious consequences”.

Two other defendants, Nguyen Viet Hung, former deputy director of the Health Ministry’s Drug Administration (DAV); and Le Dinh Thanh, a former official of the Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department, were sentenced to three years and two years respectively, on the same charge as Cuong.

Two former officials of the DAV, Pham Hong Chau and Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy, got four years for abusing positions and power while on duty.  

Nine other defendants were given imprisonments ranging from 2 years to 16 years for trading counterfeit medicine.

These defendants filed appeals for reducing their sentences, enjoying suspended sentences, lessening civil compensation or exempting from civil responsibilities.

According to the verdict of the Supreme People’s Procuracy, as head of the DAV from 2007 to 2016, Cuong failed to fulfil his responsibility in supervising and inspecting the work of experts in assessing and granting licences for seven kinds of drugs, leading to the approval of dossiers for the import and consumption of the six out of the seven counterfeit drugs, labelled Health 2000 Canada, in Vietnam with a total value of over VND148 billion (US$6.43 million).

After the drugs were imported and consumed in Vietnam, although he received information about the suspected origins of the drugs, Cuong did not give direction to stop their circulation, or recall and destroy the drugs. As a result, domestic medical establishments continued to use supplied counterfeit drugs labelled Health 2000 Canada without clear origins to treat patients at a total value of over VND3.7 billion. 

Meanwhile, former DAV deputy director Nguyen Viet Hung did not perform properly his assigned tasks and duties thus failing to detect and stop wrongdoings of his subordinates in assessing and licensing the drugs.