Chinese brothers bought drugs from cancer patients to sell on the street

  • 10 people arrested in raid on gang that recruited sick people to register at hospital where doctors had been bribed
PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 December, 2018, 4:14pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 December, 2018, 4:14pm

Ten people have been arrested in east China on suspicion of buying drugs prescribed by hospital doctors to cancer patients and selling them on the street, according to a local newspaper report.

The gang, which was based in Jiangsu province, was headed by two brothers surnamed Yuan, who are accused of bribing doctors at a hospital in the Gulou district of Xuzhou, and recruiting people suffering from cancer to register there, Yangtze Evening News reported on Friday.

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Police in the city received a tip-off about the group’s alleged activities in April and following an investigation raided its premises at the end of last month, the report said, without giving a precise location.

As well as the 10 people detained, officers seized 558 tablets of dihydroetorphine hydrochloride, one of the strongest painkillers available to doctors, the report said.

The gang began operating in 2016 and over the next two years bought thousands of pills from cancer patients at the hospital and sold them on to drug users through a network of dealers, the report said. Each pill cost the hospital 4 yuan (60 US cents) and the brothers sold them on for up to 400 yuan apiece.

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Police said they learned from the tip-off that five cancer patients had been prescribed more than 2,500 of the analgesics since 2016, with three of them being given far more than the recommended daily amount stipulated by the health authority.

The brothers are accused of targeting several hospitals in Xuzhou before identifying the one in Gulou as their primary target, the report said.

It did not say if any of the cancer patients or doctors were among the 10 people arrested, but said the hospital, which was not named, had been reported to the city’s health regulator.