Tight-knit web of directors at top of city's medicine makers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 March, 2009, 12:00am

Two directors of Europharm, the company at the centre of the drug scare, operate five other major drug firms in the city.

Four of these are believed to be among the five largest medicine manufacturers in Hong Kong.

According to the Companies Registry, Derek Sum Kwong-yip and Lau Wing-hung are directors of six firms.

Aside from Europharm, the other firms are Jean-Marie Pharmacal, Synco (HK), Vickmans Laboratories, Frankin Pharmaceutical Laboratories and APT Pharma. A Hospital Authority spokeswoman said four of the above companies (not Frankin) provided 250 out of 3,000 types of medicines used at public hospitals.

William Chui Chun-ming, education director of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong, believed the volume of drugs supplied by the five 'sister companies' was considerable.

'Despite different names, they all work under the same bosses. Their products are actually dominant in local hospitals and drug stores,' he said.

Chung Wing-ming, former president of the Practising Pharmacists Association of Hong Kong, described the related companies as a 'drug-making group'.

He said Europharm was the biggest drug supplier in Hong Kong in terms of volume, followed by APT, Jean-Marie, Synco and Vickmans.

'Drug-making is a small industry in Hong Kong. These companies with the same directors may work together to kick away other competitors,' he said.

Mr Chui urged the authority to step up transparency and introduce more suppliers in the tendering process.

A spokeswoman for Synco (HK) said the company was independent in its management and production, although its directors operated at five other companies.

'We have always followed the authority's guidance in the production process,' she said. She also answered reporters' questions as a representative of Jean-Marie Pharmacal.