3 nabbed for illegal sale of COVID-19 drugs in Pasay

Robie de Guzman   •   October 5, 2021   •   287

MANILA, Philippines – Three individuals accused of engaging in unauthorized selling of medicines used to treat novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were arrested in Pasay City, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said Tuesday.

NBI Officer-In-Charge (OIC) director Eric Distor identified the suspects as Karen Amero, Ronaldo Ceriola, and Erickson Soriano.

Distor said the NBI launched the operation after it received a request for investigation and possible entrapment operation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the alleged illegal sale of COVID-19 drugs such as Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Baricitinib among others.

The medicines are allegedly being sold thru online platforms such as Facebook, Shopee, and Lazada.

According to FDA Advisory No. 2021-0759, Remdesivir is not approved by FDA for treatment of COVID-19 and has not been granted yet with Certificate of Product Registration (CPR). This means that the said medicine cannot be marketed commercially.

In addition, the use of Remdesivir for a limited amount and for a particular patient may only be allowed in hospitals or physicians who are granted with a Compassionate Special Permit (CSP).

The NBI said a test-buy conducted by FDA personnel on September 14, 2021 confirmed the unauthorized selling of Remdesivir by the suspects.

“After proper coordination with the concerned authorities, NBI-AGD operatives conducted the buy-bust operation on September 28, 2021 at the premises of Crestly Building located at Perla St., Pasay City resulting in the arrest of the subjects,” the agency said.

The NBI said that during the conduct of inspection, several medicines were found in the area with Ceriola and Soriano, who introduced themselves as delivery riders of LMCSL Trading.

Amero, who introduced herself as office manager of LMCSL Trading, resisted the arrest claiming that they have necessary license from FDA relative to the product they sell. She even proceeded to her unit located at the ground floor of Crestly Building to show her alleged license.

However, verification by the FDA revealed that it is the LMCSL Trading located at Caroyroyan, Pili, Camarines Sur has the existing License to Operate and not the one located at Crestly Building, Pasay City where the buy-bust operation took place.

Recovered from the suspects are various types of medicines including Ivirem-Remdesivir.

The suspects are facing charges for violation of Section 11(a), (j), and (k) of RA 3720 as amended by RA 9711 otherwise known as the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009 and violation of Section 45(a) and (p) of RA 10918 otherwise known as the Philippine Pharmacy Act.

They are currently under the custody of NBI Detention Facility in Manila.

IATF revisits ‘no vaccine, no work’ policy

Maris Federez   •   December 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) announced that it is revisiting Resolutions 148-B and 149 on the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination of onsite workers.

Department of Health (DOH) Usec. Charade Mercado-Grande, who is in the DOH-IATF Secretariat, said the resolutions mandating the “no vaccine, no work” policy is under review.

“The matter is already under review and discussion po, Mr. Chair,” she said during the House Committee on Labor and Employment hearing on Tuesday.

The House panel had earlier sent a letter to the IATF, urging the body to suspend the resolution that allows business establishments to implement the ‘no vaccine, no work” policy among onsite employees.

Mercado-Grande confirmed that the resolution is still in effect despite calls from members of the House to have it suspended.

Committee chair Rep. Eric Pineda expressed dismay over the seeming disregard of the IATF to their call.

“Wala man lang sagot sa amin, ni ha ni ho. Di sana tumawag man sila o nagparamdam man lang sila. But the way we feel it, especially my committee members, para kaming napapahiya dito. Para kaming hindi binibigyan ng importansya ng mga amo ninyo,” Pineda said.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Ferdinand Gaite shared the same sentiment.

“Tila hindi binibigyan ng pagpapahalaga itong napakalaki nang implication sa ating mga manggagawa sa kasalukuyan,” he said.

With this, Pineda warned that it will issue a subpoena to the officials of the IATF should the body continue to ignore their panel’s invitation to attend the hearing.

“Kasi we don’t want na umabot sa punto na this committee will now subpoena the members of the IATF just to compel them to attend this hearing,” Pineda said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

Duterte sees better days for Phl as COVID-19 cases decline

Maris Federez   •   December 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed optimism that the country has good a chance of overcoming the pandemic with the government’s aggressive immunization campaign against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Better days ahead because since December 1, we have been on average of 500 to 600 and the number of active cases continues to go down. I’m talking about the COVID,” the President said during his televised Talk to the People address amid threat of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

“Sa Davao nga last week there’s only one. Very impressive. We continue to see a downward trend of the positivity rate, now only less than two percent,” Duterte said.

This shows, he said, that for every 100 persons tested for COVID-19, only a maximum of two people turned out to be positive.

Duterte also highlighted the success of the national vaccination days or the Bayanihan, Bakunahan for being able to administer 10.2 million doses throughout the Philippines from November 29 to December 3, which he said was a huge achievement in the country’s fight against COVID-19.

The president also announced the conduct of the second round of Bayanihan, Bakunahan from December 15 to 17.

“I hope that we would have the same success. But this time lesser because parang naubos na natin ang Pilipino sa ‘yung what counts sa bakuna kaya medyo there’s a slowdown of the COVID-19,” Duterte said. —/mbmf

NCR’s COVID-19 reproduction rate down to 0.35 – OCTA

Robie de Guzman   •   December 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The COVID-19 reproduction rate in the National Capital Region (NCR) went down to 0.35 from November 29 to December, Independent Analytics Group OCTA Research said.

OCTA Research fellow Guido David said nearly all indicators in the same period have gone down when compared to the data gathered in the past week.

In a message on Twitter on Monday, Guido also said that the daily attack rate has gone down to 0.79 from November 29 to December 5 from 2.61 recorded in the same period last year.

The positivity rate also went down to 1.1 percent from 3.7 percent, and the hospital bed occupancy from 37 percent to 21 percent.

He, however, noted that the number of ICU beds occupied slightly increased from 322 to 350.

In a media briefing, Guido said the current data should be maintained to keep the country’s very low risk classification for COVID-19.

He is also in favor of keeping the NCR and the rest of the country under COVID-19 Alert Level 2 in view of the threat of the newly discovered Omicron variant.

“If there was no threat of a new variant, pwede naman tayo actually it’s possible to de-escalate because we are at very low risk based on our metrics,” he said.

“We don’t know when this variant might come in the country. At least we are better prepared if we have some restrictions than if we don’t have restrictions,” he added.

Should the new variant enter the Philippines, David said the Philippines may see another surge in COVID-19 cases by 2022.

The OCTA Research fellow noted that based on preliminary studies, the Omicron variant seems more contagious than the Delta variant.

“If it’s twice sa Omicron then we are expecting 1 person with Omicron will infect 10-16 other people,” he said.

“Most likely ang timeline natin around January or February baka magkaroon ng disruption. It may not be a massive surge but it will still affect the number of cases,” he added.

He urged the public to be responsible and continue adhering to public health protocols against COVID-19 especially this holiday season. (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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