Thai crackdown on fake pharmacists reveals illicit cough syrup sales

Photo courtesy of Wassayos Ngamkham, Bangkok Post.

In an effort to curb drug abuse in the nation, Thai authorities have apprehended 13 individuals posing as pharmacists during a series of synchronised raids across Bangkok. The arrests were made in connection with the illicit sale of cough syrup, a crucial component in the well-known and highly addictive cocktail drug 4×100.

These operations were ordered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and executed by the Consumer Protection Police Division (CPPD) across a total of 14 pharmacies from the country’s capital. The result was the procurement of 156 pieces of evidence equivalent to a value of 1.4 million baht, reported Supoj Phumyam, chief of Consumer Protection Police Sub-division 4.

Under scrutiny for practising the profession unlicensed, the apprehended individuals largely had education only up to the high school level. They were subsequently found to be dispensing medication to customers, earning an income of 12,000 to 18,000 baht per month on average. It was unveiled that these makeshift pharmacists were stand-ins while the authorised pharmacist of the store was absent.

More severe charges were placed on the suspects when authorities discovered they were involved in the illicit sale of cough syrup. This substance forms the foundation to concoct the narcotic beverage known as 4×100, infamously made from a combination of cough syrup, kratom leaves, cola, and a tranquilliser or painkiller.

The nationwide illicit cough syrup sweep was precipitated by an announcement from Thailand’s Pharmacy Council, reminding all pharmacies of the necessity to recruit at least one full-time pharmacist. Several of the investigated pharmacies were part of larger chains, revealed Police Colonel Supoj.

As part of the operation, authorities confiscated 24,722 bottles of cough syrup, 4,150 capsules of Tramadol, a controlled substance for pain management, and numerous other drugs. A common strategy among pharmacies to sidestep regulations revolved around opening numerous branches to increase their quota of legally permissible cough syrup for sale. Each branch is technically allowed to stock up to 300 bottles per month, reported Bangkok Post.

The infamous 4×100 pharmacies were mostly situated in the Ramkhamhaeng, Hua Mak, and Lat Phrao areas.

Crime NewsThailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

Related Articles