SEVEN persons were arrested for alleged involvement in the illegal sale of overpriced Tocilizumab medicine being used to treat severe COVID-19 cases in the country this week, Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) director Major General Albert Ignatius D. Ferro said.
Three of the suspects identified as Allan Navasero, Jomar Baculo and Gerard Magbanua, all said to be working for a certain Lenamed Corp., were arrested during a sting at the LME warehouse in Lipa City in Batangas, said the official.
Recovered during the operation were two vials of 400mg/20ml Tocilizumab worth P94,000 each, a copy of the receipt for Tocilizumab amounting to P188,000, the marked money and a Hyundai Starex, Ferro said.
The four others identified by the CIDG director as Arnold Minor, Jean Marie Mangosing, Terence Jabatan and Romanito Bigcas were arrested in an operation in Bacoor City.
Confiscated during the sting were two vials of Tocilizumab 400mg/20ml (Actemra) worth P166,000, the marked money and a Mitsubishi Expander.
Ferro said they conducted the operations with the help of the local police, the Army and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“These police operations are in accordance with the directive of our Chief PNP, PGen Guillermo Lorenzo T Eleazar, to coordinate with FDA and make those responsible for such illegal activities accountable,” he said.
The Department of Health has imposed a price range of P20,500 to P28,500 as the retail price for the said medicine. However, the suspects were found to be selling it for a much higher price.
Tocilizumab is used as an immunosuppressant and an effective treatment for COVID-19 patients.
The arrested persons have been charged for violation of Republic Act (RA) 9502, or the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008, in relation to Executive Order 104 Series of 2020 and RA 9711, or the FDA Act of 2009, Ferro said.
“Pakiusap po namin sa ating mga kababayan na kung may na-monitor po silang mga nag-aalok o nagbebenta nito sa Facebook or other social media sites, ay huwag po silang mag-atubiling ireport ito sa CIDG,” the official said.
“If there are violations committed by those online sellers, we will not hesitate to arrest and make them accountable,” he added.