Unregistered Chinese medicines supposedly for COVID-19 treatment seized
MANILA, Philippines – Two kilograms of unregistered Chinese medicines supposedly intended to treat COVID-19 have been intercepted by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
BOC said in a statement on Monday that the medicines, which have yet to secure clearances from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA), were obtained last April 27.
The contraband items were contained in three packages, declared as “resin handicraft”.
“The shipments were concealed in three 3 separate packages to 3 different consignees with same shipper address. All were found to be misdeclared as ‘Resin Handicraft’,” BOC said.
“This is a new modus in evading the required License to Operate and Certificate of Product Registration from the Food and Drugs Administration on the importation of medicines,” the bureau added.
Recent reports show millions worth of Chinese medicine being marketed as a cure to the COVID-19 being confiscated as it has not been approved by the FDA. One raid in Malate, Manila yielded P40 million worth of the medicines — similar to drugs recovered from a Chinese businessman a few days ago.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) clarified that there is no recommended single medicine to treat the effects of the coronavirus strain. As of now, health experts are using several HIV medicines and interferons to cure COVID-19 patients.
BOC meanwhile assured that their personnel remain on standby to prevent such drugs from slipping into the country.
“District Collector Carmelita M. Talusan reiterated her previous directives to NAIA Frontliners, X-ray Inspection Project, Enforcement and Security Service, Customs Intelligence & Investigation Service and Customs Anti-Illegal Drug Task Force to be more vigilant in the profiling and conduct of mandatory random Xray inspection on all shipments prior to release in order to prevent illegal schemes in evading customs and related laws,” BOC said.
“The Port of NAIA supports the directives of BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero to be alert in the entry of illegal goods and expedite processing of essential goods especially COVID-19 related shipments as mandated by Republic Act No. 11469 otherwise known as the ‘Bayanihan Heal as One Act’,” they added.
The demand for medicine appears high as the number of coronavirus-infected patients is still on the rise. The Department of Health said on Monday that across the country, there are 9,485 patients infected, with 623 of them dead and 1,315 have recovered.
Worldwide, over 3.51 million individuals are confirmed to have COVID-19, while at least 247,565 have died from the disease and over 1.12 million have recovered from it.
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