SEVERAL boxes of allegedly fake medicines were seized yesterday during a simultaneous raid in five pharmacies in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay and Naga.
Lawyer Augusto Eric Isidoro, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 assistant director, said the medicines and vitamins that were confiscated are counterfeit products of Unilab, a pharmaceutical company.
They raided the pharmacies of Twin Star and ERX in Cebu City; Lodith in Barangay Paknaan, Mandaue City; T and A in Barangay Tabunok, Talisay City; and Purchaser in Barangay Poblacion, Naga City.
Representatives of Unilab were the ones who sorted out the fake products.
As identified in the search warrant, the fake products are Alaxan FR, Inoflux, Solmux, Solmux Broncho, Aspilets, Alaxan, Calcibloc, Biogesic, Diatabs, Ceelin, Enervon-C, Revicon, Tuseran, Neozep, Medicol Advance, Decolgen, Dolfenal, Bioflu, Skelan, Myra-E, Kremil S, Amoclav, Qinolon, Disudrin, Decilone-, and Neo-Pyrazon.
The fake medicines were not certified by the Food and Drugs Administration.
“We don’t know (if) these are poisonous and can harm the public,” said Isidoro.
Department of Health 7 Director Jaime Bernadas cautioned that fake drugs are “very dangerous” since they do not have certificates of product registration issued by the Food and Drugs Administration.
“Manufacturers of fake drugs clearly do not have credibility and there is no guarantee that their components are adherent to that of the brand,” Bernadas said in an interview.
Before the raid, Unilab representatives filed a complaint before NBI 7 after they received reports that fake products bearing their brand name are sold in Metro Cebu.
Isidoro said they bought Unilab products from 23 drug stores.
After the examination conducted by Unilab personnel, they identified five pharmacies that sold the fake products.
The Unilab people said the packaging is different, the quality, inferior. The markings are also not clear, Isodoro said.
The official advised the public to be wary in buying medicines.
Seven boxes of fake medicines and vitamins in different sizes were seized from the stores.
Isidoro said the price of the counterfeit product is cheaper than the original.
The value of the fake products was not determined yesterday.
Representatives and owners of the drug stores were brought to NBI 7 office for questioning.
They said their supplier is another pharmacy in downtown Cebu City. The pharmacy, however, is an authorized distributor of Unilab products.
Judith Tundag, who owns Lodith Pharmacy, said she hopes she will be released from NBI’s custody because she was not involved in any illegal activity in the 15 years that she has been operating her drugstore.
She said she too is a victim if indeed the Unilab products she sells in her drugstore are fake.
She said they didn’t know the medicines were fake because their boxes looked the same as the genuine products.
She said she bought her supplies of medicines from a wholesaler and other pharmacies.
NBI 7’s operations were based on a search warrant issued by Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 11 Ramon Daomilas Jr.
Isidoro said selling fake products violates Republic Act (RA) 8293, or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.
The law punishes any person who commits trademark infringement and unfair competition. The offense is bailable.
Isidoro said the local government units have the authority to close the stores.
Consumers can also file charges against the store owners, he added.