3 face charges in Vietnam for trading drug precursors

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The Ho Chi Minh City police have recommended charges against three people for illegally trading tens of millions of tablets containing precursors or substances used to produce drugs.

Pham Thi Kim Dung, 38, Tran Thi Hoa, 52, and Nguyen Nhat Truong, 31, will face charges of "illegal business activities," Tuoi Tre newspaper quoted an unnamed source as saying Friday.

They are accused of colluding with several companies to buy flu and cold medicines produced by HCMC-based BV Pharma Joint-Venture Company in bulk and reselling them for profit, though they are not licensed to trade drugs.

Tuoi Tre said three other people and six drug companies abetted the trio, but the police do not have enough evidence to charge them.

However, another company, Viet Thai Ltd. Co., continues to be investigated.

The police told the city People's Procuracy the prosecutor's office --that Dung and Hoa bought nearly 21.66 million tablets of Acivenose and Tripofed for over VND5.12 billion (US$243,500) from Le Thi My Linh, deputy director of Viet Thai.

Truong bought nearly 55.44 million tablets of Activenose, Bivofed, Tripofed, and Biviflu Night for nearly VND5.8 billion ($275,800) from Nguyen Quoc Cuong, deputy director general of BV Pharma.

The Drug Administration last year permitted BV Pharma and two of its outsourcing companies to buy more than 7.35 tons of pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in cold medicines but also a precursor to methamphetamine.

The company produced nearly 117 million cold and flu tablets, Tuoi Tre said.

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While precursors are often used to produce methamphetamine and other illegal drugs, they are also used to manufacture legal drugs.

Many countries have been advised by international agencies like the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to deal with the problem by identifying frequently-abused substances, and implement measures to control them, especially their import and export.

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