A 37-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday for selling an unregistered oral Covid-19 drug on social media platforms during a joint operation by police and the Department of Health.
The operation came as the department received intelligence that oral Covid
drugs were earlier found available for sale on social media platforms and initiated an investigation.
The man was arrested for the suspected illegal sale of an unregistered pharmaceutical product and a prescription drug containing Primovir, a Part 1 Third Schedule poison. The investigation is ongoing, according to an official statement.
Currently, only Paxlovid manufactured by Pfizer
Corp HK Ltd and Molnupiravir by Merck Sharp & Dohme (Asia) Ltd have been registered in Hong Kong in accordance with Cap 138A Pharmacy and Poisons Regulations.
And only these two drugs are approved by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong as registered oral drugs for Covid
A spokesperson for the department stressed these two drugs could only be supplied to healthcare institutions and doctors in public and private sectors, and patients could only be prescribed the medications by registered medical practitioners when needed.
“Drug retail outlets cannot procure the relevant oral drugs from suppliers nor sell them to the public,” he added.
The spokesperson also explained that the special restrictions were imposed by the board after having considered factors such as patient's suitability, relevant contraindications, and possible side effects.
He continued that the department has a mechanism in place to monitor the sale of pharmaceutical products in the market. And the department will immediately carry out investigations and conduct joint operations with other law enforcement agencies if suspected illegal sale or possession of unregistered pharmaceutical products is detected.
“All registered pharmaceutical products should carry a Hong Kong registration number on the package in the format of 'HK-XXXXX,'” the spokesperson reminded.
Illegal sale or possession of unregistered pharmaceutical products, or the sale of specified poisons without a doctor's prescription is a criminal offense. The maximum penalty upon conviction carries a HK$100,000 fine and two years imprisonment.