Health

Pharmacies demand prescriptions for molnupiravir, the ‘black market’ is rampant


Quang, 35, asked on a social network group to buy molnupiravir on March 6, and immediately received dozens of offers to buy the drug without a prescription.

Someone left a phone number to contact advice, someone advertised 96 pills made in Vietnam for one million dong. Some others put pictures of drugs, including drugs imported from India, always available, priced from one million back. “Many sellers, many prices, some even invite ‘wholesale’, but online transactions do not know which seller is reputable,” Quang said.

Finally, Mr. Quang decided to buy a box of Stella molnupiravir “like the one published in the newspaper”, priced at 250,000 VND, sent from Hanoi to his hometown. His relative in Bac Giang, has a high fever of 38.5 degrees for about three days, chills, cold spines, a lot of fatigue. The medical station is far from home, the patient went to the F0 isolation paper-making station but did not have a doctor’s prescription, so the pharmacy could not sell molnupiravir.

In the past few days, the activity of buying and selling anti-viral drug molnupiravir on social networking groups has been bustling, in the context that some localities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City… require pharmacies to only sell molnupiravir to F0 with a prescription. medicine issued by a doctor, while waiting for instructions from the Government and the Ministry of Health. Previously, when the Ministry of Health had not yet issued a production license and approved the price (February 23) for three domestic manufacturers, “portable” drugs were sold on the busy “black market” for several million dong a day. boxes.

Khue, 40 years old in Ha Dong, Hanoi, went to many pharmacies on March 3, but could not buy molnupiravir because there was no “medical prescription, red stamped”. She went online to ask, was sent by a friend the labels of three Vietnamese-made drugs and introduced the purchase address. On March 5, she bought two boxes of molnupiravir without a prescription or test results, for 300,000 VND each.

Khue’s husband contracted Covid-19 for the first time in mid-January, just recovered for a month and re-infected again. Not yet tired and short of breath after Covid-19, he had a second infection, so his health was much weaker, wanted to take molnupiravir to be negative soon. She and her two children are also sick. The first time her husband got sick, the family informed the management of the apartment building where they lived, waited a week for no response. “The medical station is overloaded, the phone is not answered, so the whole family goes online to see the medicine by themselves, call the doctor online for advice,” Khue said.

The seller for Ms. Khue, named Phuong Anh, said, “I’ve imported as much as I can due to high demand”. The price is similar to that of the drugstore, slightly more “negligible” but does not require a prescription or double-bar testing. A box of 100 pills costs about 750,000 VND, a box of 20 pills costs 250,000-300,000, wholesale prices will be cheaper. Medicines imported from India, guaranteed to be genuine, twice as effective as domestic drugs, priced at three million dong.

This person said that the drug is expensive because it is difficult to import, the price is high, this is already “the price of acquaintances”, some people even sell 3.6 million to 4 million dong a box. The price of portable anti-virus drugs from Russia increased from 200,000 VND to nearly 600,000 VND. Medicines are expensive, but every time they are imported, they are sold out, even scarce due to high demand.

Also does not require a prescription or confirmation of F0, you can buy as much as you want, a man named Huy in Ho Chi Minh City is selling Mekophar’s Movinavir 200mg for 1.2 million VND a box of 100 pills. The other two drugs are “continuously out of stock”, including Molnupiravir Stella and Molravir of Boston, packed with 20 400 mg tablets a box, priced at 250,000 VND. He introduced himself as a pharmacist with 20 years of experience in the profession, selling this medicine without a prescription, only taking it when he detects two lines (positive for Covid-19).

The drug manufacturers confirmed that in the past time, they only supplied drugs under contract to pharmacies, not retailed to the market. Mr. Luong Dang Khoa, General Director of Boston Pharmaceutical Joint Stock Company Vietnam has signed a contract and distributed it to more than 10,000 pharmacies nationwide, selling at the list price of 250,000 VND per box (enough for one treatment course). 5 days). Medicines manufactured by the company have a QR code, making it easy to look up information such as drug images, drug formula ingredients, indications, instructions for use, company name, address, hotline phone number. ..

Ms. Nguyen Ngoc Lieu, Deputy General Director of Stellapharm Joint Venture Company Limited, said the company signed contracts with three major distributors. These distributors will work directly with pharmacies to bring drugs to the market, in the spirit of an agreement to sell to the right audience, with a commitment not to exceed the listed price.

The drug was urgently licensed by the Ministry of Health on February 17, and has been on the market since February 23. In the early days, many people had difficulty accessing it because it was a prescription drug, requiring a doctor’s prescription, according to current regulations of the Ministry of Health. Pharmacies seek to remove difficulties for buyers, accept to sell drugs for cases where they have a certificate of treatment for F0 from the local health department or have a positive self-test video at home.

The Ministry of Health on March 5 proposed the Prime Minister to allow people to use videos of people filming the rapid test at home as a basis to buy molnupiravir, because the requirement to buy antiretroviral drugs for molnupiravir must have a doctor’s prescription, the doctor will overloading the health system, due to the increasing number of infections. Because the drug is licensed with conditions, when used, must be closely monitored due to side effects and the risk of creating new strains, the Ministry of Health proposes that pharmacies and drugstores are responsible for prescribing and selling molnupiravir for the people, compile data and report to the local health station or health center daily.

People buy the antiviral drug molnupiravir at a pharmacy in Hanoi, February 26. Photo: Loc Chung

Experts support the proposal of the Ministry of Health, hoping to soon implement it to help people easily access drugs, thereby reducing the risk of buying drugs on the black market. Unidentified drugs for sale floating online. According to doctor, people’s physician Tran Si Tuan, requiring a doctor’s prescription to be able to sell drugs causes many troubles. The user is F0 at home, when this group gets sick, they call to ask a familiar doctor for advice, and the doctor can’t issue a prescription with a red stamp for F0 to buy.

Meanwhile, medical stations in many places are overloaded, unable to handle and advise thousands of cases in the area at the same time. By the time there is time to resolve, it is past the golden age to take the drug, which is recommended to be taken as soon as possible when positive.

“People buy drugs online at a very expensive price, and they are very fake and very dangerous,” said Dr. Tuan. He suggested that buyers should remove the requirement that buyers have an F0 certificate, or record videos, because of unnecessary administrative procedures, because “only when people have Covid-19 will people go to buy medicine”.

Assoc. Prof. TS.BS Do Van Dung, Dean of the Faculty of Public Health, University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City, said that in some countries, some countries apply a check table, according to which doctors assess F0 to fully meet specific criteria. will appoint to buy medicine. Doctors are not burdened with responsibilities, leading to hesitation when prescribing, from which patients have less to find ways to buy drugs floating outside when there is a need.

“The quality and content of floating drugs are not guaranteed and the phenomenon of drug resistance is increasing, endangering public health,” Associate Professor Dung said.

Le Phuong – Chile

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