NBI 7 chief: Refrain from buying drugs for Covid-19 treatment sold on black market

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NATIONAL Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 Director Rennan Augustus Oliva has warned the public to refrain from acquiring drugs and medicines for Covid-19 treatment on the black market.

Aside from being illegal, resorting to the black market could lead to the purchase of fake drugs.

Oliva issued the reminder on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, following the arrests of a doctor and his daughter and another person for allegedly smuggling 10 pieces of Tocilizumab and 25 boxes of Baricitinib tablets threefold the maximum price. These drugs are used in treating Covid-19 patients.

According to Oliva, Tocilizumab has a maximum suggested retail price of P25,000 per 400 mg/20mL vial; however, it is sold for more than P100,000 on the black market. It is an anti-inflammatory drug used for the treatment of severely affected Covid-19 patients.

The Department of Health (DOH) said there are still no approved drugs for Covid-19 treatment. Drugs like Tocilizumab and Baricitinib are used off-label to treat Covid-19 patients.

Oliva said the demand for Covid-19 medicines in the region is high and the manufacturer of the medicines cannot cope with the demand.

For this reason, some opted to acquire medicines sold on the black market, said Oliva.

The NBI 7 chief said acquiring medicine from the black market is illegal and dangerous because it is uncertain where the drug was manufactured as it has no legal documents.

The public must be aware that a lot of things were already counterfeited and some shady personalities have been taking advantage of the pandemic.

Smuggled goods have not passed through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) examination to test their safety and legitimacy.

The NBI 7, Oliva said, will continue to monitor the hoarding and smuggling of medicines and oxygen tanks and make arrests of violators.

The agency is assisted by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Department of Health, and the FDA.

Meanwhile, the NBI 7 has officially opened its first district office in Cebu located at the back of the Mandaue City Cultural and Sports Complex on Monday.

Oliva said this office will cater to the residents in Mandaue City, Lapu-Lapu City, and the Northern part of Cebu with services such as distribution of NBI Clearance, forensic services, medico-legal services, examine forged signatures, and investigative component services.

As they are still processing the deployment of their agents, Oliva said they will only offer their investigative component services in the meantime. (KFD)

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