PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered a crackdown on the illegal trade of the Favipiravir antiviral drug, used to treat Covid-19, following the seizure of hundreds of boxes destined for the online black market earlier this week. Police arrested nine suspects on Tuesday, carrying out coordinated raids across Bangkok, Saraburi, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi, with a hospital manager alleged to have illegally supplied the drugs.
Following the seizure, authorities have firmly emphasised the drug cannot be sold directly to consumers. Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said illegal trade not only had the potential to deprive patients of proper treatment, but may even pose a risk of more infections, Nation Thailand reported.
Police had recovered 390 boxes, each containing 100 Favipiravir pills, under the trademark Favir made by the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation. The Bangkok Post reported the hospital manager who illegally supplied the drugs charged 1,600 baht per box. The boxes then found their way online, with vendors reselling them at 4,000-8,000 baht per box.
Supatra Boonserm, Food and Drug Administration acting secretary-general, confirmed that Favipiravir requires administration under the close supervision of doctors, with patients in need of the drug to receive it free of charge from the government.
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