Police of Binh Tan District under Ho Chi Minh City have recently arrested and indicted two workers of local medical centers for misappropriating the antiviral drug Molnupiravir from public reserves for 'black market' sales.
The two health workers in question were identified to be Nguyen Van Thua, 40, from Hoc Mon District, and Huynh Phuong Thao, 36, from Tan Binh District, a source told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Saturday.
Charges against them were approved by the respective district-level People’s Procuracy, the source added.
On September 13, while working as a stockkeeper for a drug inventory of Binh Tan District, Thua pocketed 1,079 boxes of Molnupiravir, a drug for COVID-19 treatment developed by American pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., and sold them to Thao for the price of VND2 million (US$88) each box.
Using Facebook to seek customers, Thao resold the Molnupiravir pills at VND2.5-4 million ($110-176) per box.
After Thao sold them, the boxes were reported to have changed hands once again at the price of VND5.5-6 million ($242-264.)
At the time, both Thua and Thao were aware that the doses were in trial phases and were distributed for free to COVID-19 patients undergoing home treatment in Ho Chi Minh City, officers stated.
|The Binh Tan District Medical Center in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Khai / Tuoi Tre|
Police have also indicted three other suspects in a counterfeit Molnupiravir manufacturing racket, officers said during a press meeting on September 27.
Trafficking operations dealing with counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines, medical supplies, and drugs have been on the rise during the past months, said Huynh Quang Tuyen, a senior official at the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Public Security.
Since the pandemic hit the country in early 2020, Ho Chi Minh City has registered 392,155 COVID-19 cases and 15,069 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health's data.
The Ministry of Health and the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health have tested Molnupiravir in home treatment for COVID-19 patients in the southern city since mid-August.
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