21 May 2024

Nine people, including the general manager of a private hospital in Thailand, have been arrested by officers from the Consumer Protection Police Division for allegedly selling the anti-viral drug Favipiravir online without permission and for profiteering.

Police also seized 390 packs of the prescription only medicine in raids on eight locations in Bangkok, Saraburi, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi provinces.

Commissioner of Central Investigation Bureau, Pol Lt-Gen Chiraphop Phuridet, told the media at a news conference today (Wednesday) that the general manager of a private hospital used a contact at the hospital to purchase the anti-viral medicine at 2,000 baht per pack. The manager then allegedly sold them to eight other people at a profit. The drug was subsequently found being sold online to the public at as much as 8,000 baht per pack.

Production cost for each pack is about 1,600 baht.

Deputy Secretary-General of the Thai Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Supatra Boonserm, said Favipiravir is produced by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization, but distribution of the medicine is only under the close supervision of doctors, because of the need to monitor the side effects, especially in pregnant women and people with underlying conditions. For this reason, the medicine cannot be sold over the counter or online without a prescription.

The nine suspects were initially charged with selling a prescription only drug without permission and with illegally misrepresenting themselves as pharmacists.