Fake molnupiravir pills under a variety of brandnames are appearing not only on various illegal online sites that are selling controlled medications but also in many pharmacies around the world that are known to also sell controlled drugs illegally and also in the various notorious drug ‘black-market retail sites’.
Mexico’s government approved molnupiravir from Merck for use last week for adults with COVID-19 and “a high risk of complications.” On Friday the agency approved a second pill, Paxlovid, from Pfizer, for use on adult patients “at risk for complications.”
Mexico has long been plagued by counterfeit medicines, corruption within the regulatory agency, and a penchant for self-medication due to the country’s inadequate health care infrastructure.
It was reported that only after a week in January when molnupiravir was approved for use, fake versions of it was available in Mexico and was going for anything between US$ 180 to US$1200 for bottle of 60 200mg tablets.
Most versions of so called labelled molnupiravir for sale were from an array of companies with names like “Merit,” “Molaz” and “Azista.” But laboratory analysis confirmed that most were fake products containing other bioactive molecules not meant to treat COVID-19!
Then a huge flood of cheaper versions of molnupiravir products starting appearing on online stores and also in pharmacies around the world and most of these products were from India.
Many of the so called molnupiravir medications from India tried to emulate generic companies in India that were approved to manufacture molnupiravir under license agreements with Merck, the U.S. pharmaceutical company that holds the rights to the drug. Hence many of the fake molnupiravir products from India also carried brandnames like molflu, molaz, mpiravir, molcovir etc.
Prices of these fake products from India were much cheaper, ranging from US$25 to US$100 for a bottle of 40 200mg tablets.
It was found that an international courier company with offices in India that is owned by a European logistic company was able to courier to any country in the world, these fake medications and other controlled pharmaceutical products especially via its operations in Mumbai.
Further investigations by various Pharma News media showed that the courier company was sending millions of dollars’ worth of controlled drugs, controlled chemicals, fake pharmaceutical products etc to various countries around the world be it the United States, Canada, Australia and any country in Europe and even bypass local customs controls etc.
The operations in India were so advanced and well-coordinated such that any companies wanting to ship out fake or controlled pharmaceutical products to anywhere in the world had to pay ‘additional processing fees’ to the courier company’s staff who will demand lots of documentation papers in some cases the documents were faked by the sellers but no one checks them!
It was found and documented that even fake supplement products claiming to be COVID-19 and long-COVID cures without any substantial published data in any credible medical journals could be shipped out in liquid forms via the courier company out of India to any country in the world!
It was also found that tons of drugs like ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, various painkillers and fake supplements and treatments for COVID-19 were being couriered to the United States, Canada, Australia and elsewhere in Europe by this European logistic company from India each day without authorities in these countries even aware of the issue!
Insome cases products that are approved by Indian FSSAI (Which has low regulatory standards) but not approved by regulatory agencies in the US, Canada, Australia or countries in Europe were still being able to slip into these countries by using the services of the logistics firm.