P9 million smuggled COVID-19 drugs seized in raid

Philstar
February 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Government agents have confiscated around P9 million worth of smuggled goods, including Chinese medicines allegedly being marketed as treatment for COVID-19, during a raid on a warehouse in Parañaque City.

Among the items seized was the traditional Chinese medicine capsule Lianhua Qingwen, said to be widely marketed in China as a cure for COVID-19, according to the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

Operatives of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) also recovered Chinese cigarettes, food items and other illegally imported goods during a raid on a storage facility along Sunrise street in Barangay Tambo on Friday.

“We will need to do inventory, but most of the goods are Lianhua Qingwen, which is used as a medicine for COVID-19,” Alvin Enciso, chief of the CIIS at the Manila International Container Port, said.

BOC operatives conducted the raid along with agents of the National Bureau of Investigation Special Action Unit based on a letter of authority signed by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero.

Customs Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Service Raniel Ramiro lauded the operation, saying it strengthens the bureau’s campaign against smuggling and the proliferation of prohibited items in the country.

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use in the Philippines of Lianhua Qingwen, produced by a popular traditional Chinese medicine manufacturer Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.

The FDA, however, warned the public against the purchase of unregistered versions of Lianhua Qingwen capsules, which have different labels aside from the prescribed English version.

FDA chief Eric Domingo explained that the traditional Chinese medicine was approved in the Philippines only for treating respiratory illnesses, not COVID-19.

He added that the drug should be prescribed by a licensed doctor.

The FDA reminded the public to purchase and consume products only from authorized distributors.


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