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Businesses selling unregistered self-test antigen test kits for Covid-19 may be held liable and penalized, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said in a report by Philippine News Agency.

This, according to DTI Assistant Secretary and Consumer Protection Group Head Ann Claire Cabochan amid the rise of sellers of supposedly overpriced self-test kits online.

“For as long as it had not been authorized to be sold in the Philippines, it should not be sold whether in physical stores or in online store,” she said in a Laging Handa public briefing.

Currently, no self-administered antigen test kits have been registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III last week instructed the FDA to prepare its approval of registered self-test antigen test kits for Covid-19.

“First, we have to make a distinction. Iyong (Those) self-test kits, because they are not yet registered, they are not yet certified by the FDA as a product that can be sold in our market, wala po iyang SRP (they do not have suggested retail price),” Cabochan said.

She said the DTI is working with the FDA to fast-track applications for certificates of product registration needed to allow the sale of these self-test kits.

“Pinag-aaralan po iyan (It is being studied) and I know that the FDA is fast tracking any applications for certificate of product registration to be issued. So, wala po iyang SRP, iyong mga self-test kits at this time, kasi wala pa naman talaga silang registration from FDA. (So they these self-test kits have no SRP because they have no registration from FDA),” she said.

Stable paracetamol supply

Meanwhile, Cabochan assured that supply of paracetamol, which can be used to treat mild Covid-19 symptoms, is expected to normalize after drugstores topped up their inventory.

“Nagkaroon lang talaga po ng (There was just an) overwhelming demand. But last week, we have already received reports because we were working very closely with the manufacturers of these products, as well the drugstore, iyong (the) association of drugstore,” she said.

After some brands of paracetamol ran out of stock at certain drugstores early this month, she said the country’s major drugstores have already started replenishing their inventory since January 5.

“We are anticipating na (that) over the weekend ay magno-normalize na iyong situation kasi makakarating na ng distribution channels, iyong mga major drugstores po natin (the situation will normalize because they will reach distribution channels, our major drugstores),” she added.

Now that the replenishment has been made, she said “there is more than enough supply” and that “manufacturers will continue to produce as they have in the past.”

She also reiterated her warning against the sale of counterfeit medicines, noting that they may also be penalized with a fine, imprisonment, or both.

Under Republic Act (RA) No. 8203 or the Special Law on Counterfeit Drugs, persons who manufacture, sell and distribute fake drugs will face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and PHP5 million fine “should a counterfeit drug be the proximate cause of death of a victim.”

RA 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009 also prohibits the importation, selling or offering for sale of counterfeit medicines.

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