Thai prosecutors charge medical-glove sellers

Following on from the CNN in-depth investigation into a Thai company that allegedly sold second-hand medical gloves to local hospitals and then sold them back to patients via online auction sites, Thai authorities have…

Thai prosecutors charge medical-glove sellers

Following on from the CNN in-depth investigation into a Thai company that allegedly sold second-hand medical gloves to local hospitals and then sold them back to patients via online auction sites, Thai authorities have now indicted a company on the accusations.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has charged Thailand Healthcare Systems (THS) with violating food and drug regulations, newspaper The Nation reported Sunday. Authorities filed 31 criminal charges with the Bangkok court on Thursday and are seeking a three-year prison sentence and a 100,000 baht fine (US$3,800) for each of THS’ 11 directors, the report said.

CNN traveled to Thailand in January to speak with several children who’d received second-hand medical gloves, worrying they may have been put at risk of catching and spreading an infection like MRSA or Pacu. Other children admitted to the hospital infected with MRSA — life-threatening bacteria that can be hard to treat in hospitals — have spoken to CNN about how the jabs seem “inappropriate,” but they didn’t come up in our original investigation. CNN was able to access many of the children’s medical records as well.

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Leeza Gibbons

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CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta speaks with Virolai Lampromcharoen, who lost her mother to cancer.

“In 2008, we purchased contaminated gloves from THS, who purchased them from the manufacturer of medical gloves,” Reuters quoted BMA spokesman Lt. Gen. Chalermchai Pongpanich as saying. “THS violated food and drug law. It was sold for financial gain, and there was no proper quality check of the gloves.”

The 11 directors have been on police wanted lists since January, when the second-hand gloves were pulled from online retailers Ebay and eBay Thailand after CNN’s report aired.

Thai authorities have previously said they weren’t aware that THS was illegally shipping second-hand gloves to hospitals through online auction sites, which are protected by local law against online auctions.

CNN has not yet received a response from THS for the latest report.

By contrast, EBay announced last month it would change its policy on second-hand goods following our investigation, which resulted in an executive being sent to Thailand by the Thai authorities in early March.

EBay has since said it would hire a process inspector to vet second-hand goods in Thailand.

While not by a long shot the only ethical way to buy second-hand goods, the CNN investigation raises important questions about the process that led to the alleged crime. CNN also reported that the single man who was forced to endure lengthy accusations of illness by the hospital and salesman as part of a legal battle in a lawsuit — forcing him to give up his job — agreed that a company like THS was likely involved in purchasing, selling and then re-selling another doctor’s dirty old gloves.

The Health Ministry has conducted its own investigation. It has ordered EBay to inform Thai users if the company sells off fake goods. EBay has taken steps to remove a number of unauthorized listings, including those of jabs and drugs.

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