Woman nabbed for selling overpriced Covid medicine

THE National Bureau of Investigation has arrested a woman in Cebu City for selling overpriced Tocilizumab, a medicine found to be effective in reducing the mortality rate of patients having a severe case of Covid-19.

NBI Officer-in-Charge-Director Eric B. Distor said Cherry Jalaron y Robles was arrested Monday, Sept. 13, 2021 after she handed one vial of Tocilizumab to a poseur-buyer who had purchased the vial online for P97,000, which is higher than the maximum retail price of P20,581.45 set by the government.

On the NBI’s Facebook page Friday, Distor said the operation stemmed from a meeting called by Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (Opav) Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino for the price regulation of Covid-19 life-saving medicines, participated in by the Department of Health (DOH) 7, Department of Trade and Industry 7 and the Inter-agency Task Force-Visayas.

The NBI-Central Visayas Regional Office was tasked to pursue the lead on a certain Karen Go, who allegedly engaged in the illegal selling of Tocilizumab.

Tocilizumab and other investigational drugs for Covid-19 management can be sold only to hospitals that apply for them with the Food and Drug Administration.

On Monday, the undercover agent ordered online one vial of Tocilizumab, then agreed to meet Go that evening in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City for the delivery of the medicine.

Jalaron identified herself as the secretary of Go, instructed by the latter to deliver the medicine.

Jalaron was presented for Inquest proceeding before the Office of City Prosecutor of Cebu City for violation of Section 24 in relation to Section 25 of Republic Act 9502, or the “Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008” in relation to RA 7581 (Price Act) and Department Circular-DOH 2021-0291, Suggested Retail Price for Emergency Essential Medical Devices due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 Health Event and in relation to Article 8 (Conspiracy) of the Revised Penal Code, and in relation to Section 6 of RA 10175 or the “Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.”

Go, who is at large, was charged with the same violations. (PR)