NBI Arrest Physician with Daughter for Smuggling Tocilizumab in Cebu City
The operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have arrested a physician along with his daughter for smuggling Tocilizumab in Cebu City.
The physician was identified as Dr. Nelson T. Ong and her daughter, Raisa Nicole C. Ong, a third-year medical student, according to the report. Last September 14, operatives seized 10 pieces of Tocilizumab vials and 25 boxes of Baricitinib tablets from them, according to NBI Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Director Eric B. Distor.
Tocilizumab was proven to be successful in lowering the mortality rate of severe COVID-19, according to published clinical study findings. Baricitinib, on the other hand, shortens the time it takes for COVID-19 patients to recover.
The drugs were found in a box that seemed to be imported from India but had no local importer or distributor. The medicines also lacked FDA-approved labeling and printing, according to the NBI.
On Sept. 14, the NBI-Central Visayas Regional Office (NBI-CEVRO) in Cebu City got information that a consignment of unregistered and illegally imported Tocilizumab vials in a cold storage box was scheduled to arrive from Manila to Cebu via Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight. The shipment was purportedly sent to Raisa Ong, according to Distor.
In the intelligence report, Raisa’s name was mentioned as one of the active distributors of Tocilizumab and other COVID-19-related drugs in Cebu. The NBI-CEVRO operatives went to the PAL Cargo arrival area at the airport in Lapu-lapu City to validate and verify the information on Distor’s orders.
When the operatives discovered the goods, they requested that it be separated and stored in a secure location until the consignee or claimant arrived. Chinese-looking woman, Raisa Ong, arrived to claim the package.
While completing the release of the subject package, Subject Raisa Ong was accompanied by Subject Nelson Ong. According to the NBI’s statement, Subjects Raisa Ong and Nelson Ong proceeded to their vehicle after receiving the package.
The operatives contacted the subjects at the time and asked them to open the cold storage box. When Raisa Ong opened the box, she saw pharmaceuticals in carton packaging.
When the father and daughter were unable to produce any documentation or licenses allowing them to import, distribute, or sell the drugs, they were arrested. The NBI then obtained a declaration from the FDA stating that the arrested subjects had received “no authority or license to operate as a drug importer and/or any drug establishment of any pharmaceutical drugs.”
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