Prosecutors are checking sites for coronavirus drugs
The Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office has ordered complex inspections, within the framework of its powers to supervise the legality of the sale of medicinal products through advertisements on Internet sites. This is done on the instructions of the administrative head of the Sofia Appellate Prosecutor’s Office.
It is in implementation of the actions related to the initiated prosecutor’s file after the self-referral of the Supreme Administrative Prosecutor’s Office on the occasion of publications in the media for cases of such sales at prices many times higher than the approved and registered ones.
The implementation of the joint inspections was assigned to the Regional Health Inspectorate, the Consumer Protection Commission, the bodies of the Ministry of Interior, the National Revenue Directorate and the Mayor of Sofia Municipality. The control authorities should carry them out on the spot and in a documentary manner.
In the course of the inspection, websites were checked in order to establish violations related to the distance sale of medicinal products without a relevant permit. Attention was drawn to offers offering drugs that could be in high demand from patients due to the information spread on the Internet that they could be used as a treatment or prevention of COVID-19.
In one of the cases, the control body found the sale of medicinal products subject to a prescription regime. Their sale on the Internet is in violation of the Law on Medicinal Products in Human Medicine (LMPHM). Some of the drugs are not approved for use in Bulgaria. The website does not have a Permit for retail trade in medicinal products, nor does it appear in the list of persons offering medicinal products for sale, according to the LMPHM. This violation is subject to the imposition of a fine in the amount of BGN 5,000 to BGN 10,000. Only a contact phone number is listed on the website, there is no information about its owner.
An advertisement published on two other sites offering the sale of a medicinal product containing the active substance umifenovir was checked. It is stated that it is a prevention against coronavirus COVID-19, influenza type A and B, any other viruses and rotaviruses. The drug is offered at a price of BGN 119.90. The preparation in question is also not approved for use in Bulgaria. In order to identify the traders on these sites, their domains were checked and found to be registered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The information on both sites is scarce, the connection is made through a contact form.
A platform for free advertisements in the country has established one for the sale of a medicinal product – powder for concentrate for solution for infusion, in violation of LLPHM. There were also rumors of alleged effectiveness in the fight against COVID-19. A user who published this ad indicated only his phone number and location – Pazardzhik.
To establish the identity of the violators in these cases, assistance was requested from the bodies of the Ministry of Interior.
During the state of emergency imposed in the country, the Regional Police Departments in the capital worked on a number of files concerning the sale of essential medical supplies, protective equipment and disinfectants at inflated prices. Materials on some of them were sent to the prosecutor’s office.
Pre-trial proceedings were instituted after a truck carrying plastic bottles with a white clear liquid labeled “antibacterial hand sanitizer without washing” was detained. The goods were loaded from a warehouse in Sofia for Lovech. Raw material for production in the amount of about 1 ton was also found. There was evidence of its danger to human health.
In the course of the inspection, the control authorities inspected a total of 31 retailers of medicinal products. No violations were found among most of them. Some of them are not related to the National System for Verification of Medicinal Products and have been prescribed according to the delegated regulation (EU) of the European Commission.
The inspectors of the Executive Agency for Medicines also visited 35 other addresses on the territory of the city of Sofia, for which permits for retail trade in a pharmacy were issued. It was found on the spot that they were not functioning. Upon verification of their status, it was found that their owners have not fulfilled their obligation to notify the relevant order of termination of their activities. Failure to comply with this requirement provides for the imposition of a coercive administrative measure – revocation of the marketing authorization. In this regard, 22 administrative proceedings were instituted.