Counterfeit of popular medicine brands worth at least P30 million were confiscated at two storage areas in Parañaque City, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said.
In a statement, the BOC said an operation launched on January 5, 2022 yielded the seizure of counterfeit medicines such as Biogesic, Neozep, Bioflu, Immunpro, Ivermectin, Phenokinon F Injection, Medicol, Planax, Alaxan FR, MX3 and others.
Customs said that certification from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Unilab Pharmaceuticals, the makers of paracetamol brand Biogesic, stated that the said medicines were counterfeit.
The operation was conducted by the BOC with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), Intelligence Service Armed Forces Of the Philippines (ISAFP) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
“We received reports about the presence of counterfeit items. It’s not just items, but medicines. We acted on this immediately because this can pose a health threat. They are selling these to unsuspecting people whose only hope is to buy authentic medicines for themselves and their loved ones,” said Raniel Ramiro, Customs Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence Group.
The BOC said the counterfeit medicines were packed in cartons with tags bearing foreign characters. They were found in two storages at 7434B and 7434C Highland St., Marcelo Green Village and 27 Pearl St., Severina Subdivision, Km 18, Brgy. Marcelo, both in Paranaque City.
The seized items were immediately hauled to the BOC premises, though the inspection and inventory are still ongoing.
The team, composed of members of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service at the Manila International Container Port (CIIS-MICP), PDEA-IIS, NICA, ISAFP and the PCG, nabbed the suspect identified as Adel Rajput, a 31-year old Pakistani national, a resident of Caloocan City.
The BOC said the suspect was brought to the Paranaque City Prosecutors’ Office for an inquest.
He will face various cases for violation of Sec. 1401 (Unlawful Importation/Exportation), Sec. 1113 (Property Subject to Seizure and Forfeiture) paragraph (l) (5) in relation to Sec. 118 (Prohibited Importation and Exportation) paragraph (e) of the CMTA, and the violation of Republic Act No. 8293 (Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines and its Pertinent Rules and Regulations).
“His visa will be under a revocation process by the Bureau of Immigration,” Customs said.
Last November 24, 2021, BOC said it also confiscated fake medicines bearing names of popular brands such as Alaxan, Tuseran Forte, Propan, and Diatabs with an estimated value of P50 million from a warehouse in Pasig City.
Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero lamented how these businesses are operating during this time when the public is facing difficulties in purchasing anti-flu medicines amid the surge in COVID-19.
“It is sad how these criminals are using the pandemic for their own gain, especially when it comes to medicines. These are medicines that people thought will relieve them of their pain, their conditions. It is unforgivable that these individuals are using people’s desperation to earn money,” he said.
The Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry earlier assured that there was no shortage in supply of some medicine brands, and that pharmacies only experienced temporary stockout due to “overwhelming demand.”