Woman jailed 21 months for forgery and supplying 20,300 litres of codeine

The 20,307 litres of cough syrup Ashley Jas Ang Wei Hoon, 38, sold was enough to fill a petrol tanker.
The 20,307 litres of cough syrup Ashley Jas Ang Wei Hoon, 38, sold was enough to fill a petrol tanker. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A former sales manager of a pharmaceutical company was jailed for 21 months on Wednesday for selling 20,000 litres of cough syrup - enough to fill a petrol tanker- as well as for forgery.

Ashley Jas Ang Wei Hoon, 38, who worked for Beacons Pharmaceuticals, also sold 20,000 pills of various types.

Ang, who faced a total of 395 charges, had pleaded guilty to 60 charges - 30 each of forgery for the purpose of cheating and selling medicinal products under the Medicines Act that are not on the General Sales List.

She supplied an estimated 20,307.2 litres of codeine-based cough syrup - the largest amount to date - between May 25, 2009, and May 26, 2010.

The court heard that she delivered 5,344 bottles of codeine-based cough syrup, each containing 3.8litres of the medicine, in a year.

She also illegally sold 20 bottles of drugs, each containing 1,000 pills, including Diapo tablets, which contain the stupefying drug diazepam, and Panaco tablets, a medication containing codeine, used for temporary fever relief.

In September 2008, she came to know clinic assistant Soh Woon Mei, who worked at Kim Tian Clinic in Tiong Bahru.

 

In May 2009, Ms Soh called Ang, asking if she could help her order and deliver bottles of codeine-based Promedyl-B Linctus cough syrup to Malaysian Wong Kin Yu.

Ang initially declined but accepted the offer later, when she realised that she could not meet her team's sales target.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Stacey Anne Fernandez said that Ang wanted to hit her sales target and create "a good portfolio for herself in the hope of getting a job in another multi-national company in future".

Ang told her administrative staff to create invoices under Beacons Pharmaceuticals for an order purportedly made by Kim Tian Clinic.

Besides the rubber stamp of Kim Tian Clinic, Wong also used rubber stamps bearing the names of 72 clinics islandwide on the invoices brought by Ang. Ang used the invoices to deceive the company into believing the orders were made by various general practitioner clinics. Wong is at large.

District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt said in his brief grounds of decision that this may well be the worst case of unauthorised sale of codeine but the prosecution was far from seeking the highest possible sentence.

He accepted that Ang was not the mastermind but certainly no "pawn'' as characterised by her counsel, Mr Tan Cheow Hung.

"I would consider her to be a co-conspirator or, at the very least, she played the role of the seller in a 'buyer-seller' relationship in the illegal transactions." he said.

He said Ang committed the offences out of self-interest, even if she had not made any financial gain from the illegal transactions.

Judge Chay said that Ang was well aware of the dangers of selling medicines to the black market and the reason fo r the regulations of the sale of such products.