Raids yield haul of illegal antivirals

Raids yield haul of illegal antivirals

Dealer imported drugs from India

Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul holds a vial of remdesivir, one of 8,000 illegally imported antiviral drugs from India worth about 10 million baht on Thursday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul holds a vial of remdesivir, one of 8,000 illegally imported antiviral drugs from India worth about 10 million baht on Thursday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

The Ministry of Public Health warned the public not to purchase antiviral drugs without a prescription after its staff joined police to raid houses in Bangkok. They seized 80,000 illegally imported tablets worth about 10 million baht being sold online.

Police said a tip from the ministry's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) led law enforcement agents to raid two houses in Taling Chan and Wang Thong Lang districts on Thursday. In total, they seized 2,300 boxes containing 80,000 tablets of mostly molnupiravir and favipiravir.

Pol Maj Gen Anan Nanasombat, commander of the police's consumer protection division, said officers probed two online outlets offering the drugs and found they received products from an agent in Wang Thong Lang.

The agent admitted she received the products from a wholesaler in Taling Chan, he said.

A dealer imported the drugs from India over the past two months, he said, adding the main shipment was sent via post office in Nonthaburi's Chaeng Wattana district.

"The case is special as we have arrested all the culprits, including the wholesaler, the agent and the online seller," Pol Maj Gen Anan said.

"Those three culprits are charged with selling illegal drugs without a permit and selling drugs not approved by the authorities under the Drug Act."

The suspects face up to five years in prison and/or a maximum fine of 10,000 baht for selling illegal drugs without a permit and another three years and/or a maximum fine of 5,000 baht for selling drugs without FDA approval.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the government is the sole importer of antiviral drugs, including favipiravir, monulpiravir and remdesivir which are distributed to state and private hospitals for Covid-19 patients.

Mr Anutin said the drugs are for emergency use so a doctor's prescription is required due to strong side effects.


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