CHINA – Shanghai police have broken a fake Tamiflu drug manufacturing operation. The police confiscated more than 400 kg. (882 lbs.) of fake Tamiflu and 46 tons of raw materials. They arrested 13 suspects and froze bank accounts containing more than 4.6 million yuan (US$575,000).
The Oriental Morning Post reported that a criminal group had sold more than 400 kg. (882 lbs.) of fake Tamiflu over the internet. Profits from the fake medicine were more than 1.6 million yuan (US$200,000). It is known that internet sales were made to people in Heilongjiang, Liaoning, Jiangsu, and Guangdong Provinces in China, as well as other countries in Southeast Asia. At present, authorities are still tracing other sales.
The suspects have an educational background in science or chemistry. It is reported that one of the main suspects, Wang Xun, has a chemical engineering degree. He was previously investigated by police in Taizhou, Zhejing Province, for making fake medicine.
After moving to Shanghai, Wang Xun registered two businesses, Shanghai Xidi Pharmaceutical Co. and Xinwei Chemical Industry Co., LTD. He discovered last year that Tamiflu demand was so high that a large unmet demand could easily make him rich. He illegally obtained the Tamiflu manufacturing process and started production in Shanghai last December.
Roche Licenses Tamiflu in China
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche owns the Tamiflu patent rights. Initial tests in Asia indicate that Tamiflu may be effective for preventing and treating bird flu infections. After discussions with China's Ministry of Health, Roche decided to sell Tamiflu for government distribution to the public.
Because Roche does not have the manufacturing capacity to meet worldwide demand for Tamiflu, it has agreed to grant licenses for suitable enterprises to produce Tamiflu globally. Currently, only two companies in China have been licensed, Shanghai Pharmaceutical Group and Shenzhen HEC Group. Tamiflu production by the two companies is limited to distribution in China.