Lawyers to appeal 'fake drug' convictions

Lawyers are appealing a ruling against a group convicted earlier this year of administering unlicensed imported vaccines to local children.

Lawyers are appealing a ruling against a group convicted earlier this year of administering unlicensed imported vaccines to local children.

The case involves the privately-owned Shanghai American-Sino Obstetrics and Gynecology Service. Between July 2015 and November 2016, a senior official at the clinic, Hu Panpan, acting upon a request from the clinic’s legal representative, Kuo George Qiao, imported 13,000 doses of 11 types of vaccines from Swee Yong Peng. Swee purchased the vaccines legally at clinics in his native Singapore.

The vaccines included Pfizer’s Prevenar 7 and Prevenar 13, two widely-used pneumonia vaccines.

Chinese health authorities didn’t renew the license to use Prevenar 7 in 2013. Authorities only approved the entry of Prevenar 13 to the domestic market at the end of 2016, six years after receiving similar approval in Singapore.

“Babies who received the first injection of Prevenar 7 found nowhere to get the later injection (Prevenar 13), and thus their parents asked the clinic to offer the service. The clinic just tried to meet the demands of clients, and there weren’t cases of illness,” lawyers Xu Xin and Si Weijiang, representing Swee, said in a statement released on Monday.

Under Chinese law, imported drugs which aren’t licensed for use in the domestic market are considered fake.

In January, Kuo, a 61-year-old US resident, was sentenced to seven years behind bars and fined 2 million yuan (US$294,503), while Hu was sentenced to six years and fined 1 million yuan. Swee and another who helped to transported the vaccines from Singapore to Shanghai were each sentenced to four years and fined 500,000 yuan. The clinic was fined 12 million yuan.

Lawyers for the convicted are appealing to the Shanghai Higher People’s Court.

“Safe, quality drugs which haven’t been granted official approval in the domestic market shouldn’t been regarded as fake drugs,” they said, adding that the rules which convicted their clients are “unclear and unreasonable.”

Special Reports
Top