Health department under scanner as drugstore chain caught with expired drugs

Ho Chi Minh City’s Market Management Bureau found hundreds of containers of expired and unregistered drugs and food supplements at a major drugstore chain, raising public concern about the functioning of the Department of Health.

MoH inspectors make a routine inspection of one of My Chau’s drugstores in HCMC on August 12, 2009 (Photo: SGGP)

After simultaneous raids on 18 outlets of My Chau, the bureau also inspected Lan Khue and Minh Phuoc pharmacies, which supply drugs for Mychau.

Many regular customers expressed outrage, saying the expired and unregistered drugs could have harmed their health. Doctors said this showed a disregard for human lives.

Dr. Nguyen Dai Bien, head of a division at People’s Hospital 115 in District 10, said this should be treated as fraud.

What comes as a surprise to many is that the DoH and even the Ministry of Health were unable to detect My Chau’s dubious activities during their annual inspections.

The DoH has even certified that seven out of My Chau’s 18 outlets conform to Good Pharmacy Practices (GPP) standards.

My Chau has a dubious record. In August 2009, when it sold Tamiflu without permission, MoH inspectors carried out checks but kept the media out, and later claimed it was an inspection to for GPP certification.

In addition, health, market, and other inspectors slapped undisclosed penalties on My Chau outlets at 338 Le Van Sy Street, District 3, 73 Thuan Kieu Street, District 5, and 148 Thanh Thai Street, District 10 in 2006 after finding tens of thousands of illegally imported drugs without receipts.

DoH’S deputy director, Pham Khanh Phong Lan, told the media harsh penalties would be imposed on the chain this time.

By Tuong Lam - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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