Gang jailed for manufacturing, selling fake medicine to Chinese hospitals

Gang based in Shenzhen also used Hong Kong-based website to sell drugs unlicensed in mainland China, newspaper reports

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 January, 2018, 3:30pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 January, 2018, 4:21pm

Eight members of a criminal gang in Shenzhen in southern China have been jailed for selling unauthorised foreign medicines and for manufacturing fake drugs, according to a newspaper report.

The gang sold some of the medicines with a rebate to doctors in public hospitals in China in return for them recommending the treatments to their patients, the Economic Information Daily said. Patients would then buy the drugs online.

The gang set up two companies in Hong Kong and mainland China four years ago, and set up a website to advertise their products.

They first concentrated on selling cancer treatment drugs made mostly in Singapore and India, which were sent to the website’s address in Hong Kong, a gang member was quoted as saying.

Gang members visited many hospitals in China, including in the Guangxi region, plus Henan and Hainan provinces, to promote the drugs.

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The gang sold over 30 kinds of foreign medicines between September 2014 to March 2016 without a licence at inflated prices.

They bought one cancer treatment for 7,500 yuan (US$1,150) a batch, but sold it for 175,000 yuan, according to the report.

“People across China bought our products – except in Tibet – and we transferred money to the bank accounts of doctors, more often in big hospitals in Beijing, Shanghai and Hunan, after they successfully introduced new customers,” one gang member was quoted as saying.

The gang later started to fake foreign brand drugs and priced them from several hundred to several thousand yuan, the article said.

The products did not work and could worsen patients’ symptoms, the National Institutes for Food and Drug Control was quoted as saying. Some victims said they felt dizzy and sick after taking the pills.

The gang was reported to Shenzhen police in March 2016.

The authorities said the gang sold medicines with a total value of nearly 6 million yuan and had stored drugs valued at over 4.3 million yuan.

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The Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court sentenced gang members to jail terms ranging from three to 13 years last month, the report said.

“Although the gang was sentenced by the court, it reflects big loopholes in China’s medicine industry,” Zhang Shudian, a law specialist at Shenzhen University, was quoted as saying.

Zhang questioned how the gang was able sell unlicensed medicines in mainland China through a Hong Kong-registered company and how they were able to approach doctors and patients in hospitals in such a bold way for so long.