FDA warns public against black market tocilizumab

23-Sep-2021 Intellasia | PhilStar | 5:02 AM Print This Post

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday warned the public against black markets selling the COVID-19 treatment drug tocilizumab, saying this could only worsen the condition of coronavirus patients.

Health authorities have said the country’s supply of the arthritis drug will remain limited until the end of the year.

That pronouncement came as the Philippines faces its worst coronavirus surge yet, with record-high new infections seen in recent weeks.

Tocilizumab has been recommended for use by the World Health Organization to help treat the infected as early as July this year.

At a Laging Handa briefing, FDA director general Eric Domingo said law enforcers have already arrested individuals selling the drug for a higher price.

“We are coordinating with the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation and several have been caught through buy-bust operations,” he said in Filipino.

Domingo said the operations have been done across the country. “Constantly, our operations are continuing for that.”

The FDA chief urged the public not to resort to buying medicine on the black market as there would be no way to identify where the drugs are from and whether they are even genuine.

“Don’t buy medicines such as these from sources you are not sure from because for sure, it’s either a counterfeit or substandard,” Domingo added in Filipino, “and could only do harm to patients.”

Early this month, the Department of Health’s pharmaceutical division said the shortage of tocilizumab is driven by the surge in infections from the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire has also warned that those selling the drug beyond the suggested retail price could be jailed for up to 10 years, and be fined between P500,000 to P1 million.

DOH has set the SRP for the tocilizumab at P13,000 to P25,000.

The PNP has also directed the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Anti-Cybercrime Group to work with the FDA on the illegal selling of the drug online.



Category: Philippines

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