Couple held over dodgy Covid drugs find at airport
A jobless couple were arrested on suspicion of smuggling 380 boxes of oral Pfizer Covid-19 drugs worth HK$500,000, Customs said yesterday.
Customs and Excise Department officers found that an air parcel from India – declared as health products – contained 250 boxes of suspected oral Covid drugs Primovir worth HK$330,000 at the Hong Kong airport on Wednesday.
A 40-year-old man was arrested at a post office in Tin Shui Wai on Saturday after subsequent tracing.
Customs officers also raided the suspect’s flat and found another 130 boxes of the drugs worth HK$170,000 and arrested his 34-year-old wife.
The couple were arrested for allegedly importing prohibited goods and possession of poisons, and were released on bail.
Customs are investigating the source of the drugs, which do not come with registration codes and suspected they were fraudulent medicines.
The drugs were sent to forensic teams for tests and analysis.
Customs’ syndicate crimes investigation bureau inspector Hong Yan warned the public about the safety of unregistered drugs.
”Citizens should not purchase drugs from unknown sources,” he said. “Unregistered drugs carry concerns over their effectiveness, safety and quality.” All registered drugs come with a five-digit code.
It is understood the drugs were to be sold on the mainland, where supplies of medication have been strained amid mass Covid outbreaks.
Two types of oral Covid drugs are registered in Hong Kong – Primovir by Pfizer and Molnupiravir by MSD.
SAR residents contracting Covid can get the drugs free, but those without a HKID card, including mainland tourists, will have to pay more than HK$6,000 for a prescription.
Hong said it is a crime to import pharmaceutical products and medicine without a valid import license, and this carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail and a HK$500,000 fine.
Under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance, possession of illegal drugs is also a criminal offense punishable by two years in jail and a HK$100,000 fine.