Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning people against buying the antiviral drug favipiravir online, saying its unregulated use could be fatal.
With the country in the grip of the Covid-19 crisis, sales of favipiravir online have shot up and demand is so high people have resorted to robbing people of their prescribed medication, it said.
Those duping people into buying favipiravir will be prosecuted, FDA deputy secretary-general Dr Surachoke Tangwiwat said on Wednesday.
Buying favipiravir online is very risky, he warned.
“Use of favipiravir needs to be prescribed under doctor’s guidance so as to monitor the results and side-effects and to prevent inappropriate use that could lead to an allergic reaction or even death,” Dr Surachoke said.
Favipiravir is classified as a controlled drug in Thailand, which requires a doctor’s prescription for purchase. However, if a person is receiving medical treatment through a government facility, they will be prescribed favipiravir without charge.
He also warned that people may also get fake or substandard drugs online, which will likely be ineffective against Covid-19 or contain harmful substances.
“People can notify authorities about the illegal sale of this drug or check on what they already bought via the 1556 hotline and email@example.com email address,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ittaporn Kanacharoen, secretary-general of the Medical Council of Thailand, said an FDA order prohibits the distribution of the antiviral drug Remdesivir to private agencies.
Its distribution should only be through government agencies such as the Disease Control Department, he said.
Remdesivir was developed by biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences in the United States, and is administered via injection.
It is widely used internationally to treat Covid-19 patients with severe conditions whose symptoms resist favipiravir, he said.