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February 5, 2015

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Man jailed for selling Indian cancer drugs online

A 34-YEAR-OLD man who sold unapproved Indian cancer drugs at higher prices online was sentenced to one and a half years in jail.

This case was among the 32 “fake drug” cases handled by the Pudong New Area People’s Court since 2013. Six of those cases involved buying drugs overseas while the rest involved selling counterfeit foreign medicine. Under Chinese law, sales of foreign medicines that are not approved by the State Food and Drug Administration are termed as “fake drugs.”

Lu Guangyi, the judge who handled this case, said most of the time the illegal activity started from the need for medicines in one’s own family.

In this case, the seller, surnamed Zhang, whose mother was diagnosed with cancer, heard that the Indian generic drug Gefitinib, trade name Iressa, might prove effective for his mother and bought them from overseas agents.

The court said Zhang bought the medicines, without the nation’s import permit, and sold it at higher prices between October, 2012 and September, 2013. He also asked some others to keep the medicine in stock for him. On September 3, 2013, police raided his residence and seized 1,140 pills of Gefitinib.

Zhang told the court that he bought 30 bottles of Gefitinib but after his mother died in August, 2013, he sold part of the drugs and also gave away some of them for free to other patients.

He said because this medicine was legal in India, it never struck him that it could labeled “fake drug” in China.

Judge Lu said as the drugs were not approved by the FDA it was deemed risky to patients’ health.

Recently a leukemia patient Lu Yong from Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, was arrested for purchasing unlicensed cancer drugs overseas.

He was released after prosecutors withdrew the charges after more than 300 leukemia patients’ appealed for his pardon.


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