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Prayut orders investigation into used medical gloves exported to the US

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SkyMed gloves seized in January 2021 | Screenshot via Thai FDA

Following a CNN investigation into the export of millions of substandard medical gloves from Thailand, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has tasked his deputy with delving further into the matter. According to a Bangkok Post report, Deputy PM and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit will take the reins of a probe, looking into the issue which has attracted global headlines since the CNN report.

CNN had revealed that the shoddy medical equipment made its way into the international supply chain, with an underground industry having emerged in Southeast Asia in the wake of the Covid pandemic. Tens of millions of counterfeit and second-hand nitrile gloves had ended up on US shores, some gloves were dirty and had blood stains. In the US, import regulations related to protective medical equipment were temporarily suspended in the wake of the pandemic. One of the companies in question, Paddy the Room, was raided by the Thai FDA last year, however subsequently relocated its operations.

With around 80 million counterfeit rubber gloves believed to have been imported into the US, Jurin has confirmed that the Commerce Ministry has requested further information from the US Food and Drug Administration, according to the Bangkok Post report. Further to this, Pol Col Neti Wongkulap, commissioner of Sub-Division 4 of the Consumer Protection Police Division, has advised that the two cases reported by CNN were handled by the Crime Suppression Division last December and forwarded to public prosecutors.

Neti additionally said that no fraud cases related to the unauthorised medical device production cases have at this stage been forwarded to the CPPD. He stated that the CNN report centres on two cases of counterfeit medical gloves in Thailand – the first dealing unauthorised production and repackaging, and unlawful trademark usage, and the second with counterfeit nitrile medical gloves production.

As reported by the Bangkok Post, FDA Deputy Secretary-General Supattra Boonserm advised that the raid of Paddy the Room had uncovered large volumes of used gloves being packed into new packages with the SkyMed label. Supattra confirmed that an FDA investigation revealed SkyMed had not imported gloves into Thailand, and had not produced any gloves of its own locally.

SOURCES: CNN | Bangkok Post

 

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