Tue, Dec 18, 2007 - Page 2 News List

DOH issues fake drugs warning

NATIONAL ALERT Immediately after being released on bail, Lo Wen-feng resumed the importation of Chinese counterfeit medicine. But police were watching his every move

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Department of Health has issued an emergency warning to regional health bureaus across the nation, asking them to be on the lookout for counterfeit drugs that are believed to have made it onto the market from a Chiayi County drug counterfeiting operation.

A operation by the National Police Agency (NPA) on Saturday uncovered a counterfeit drug ring based in the county's Taibao Township (太保).

Counterfeit versions of many popular drugs were found, including Losec, Panadol and the "morning after" medication Norlevo.

Fake dietary supplements and ointments were also discovered, including glucosamine pills and tiger balm.

The Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister newspaper) reported that more than 2 million counterfeit pills from China were also found by police officers during the raid. Officers also uncovered a large amount of packaging to be used to pass off the pills as legitimate medication.

The main suspect in the case, Lo Wen-feng (羅文鋒), was also implicated in two other cases of selling counterfeit medication.

Last month, Lo supplied God's Heart Hospital in Chiayi with counterfeit versions of the blood-pressure medication Norvasc, affecting more than 200 patients there.

Lo has been sentenced to 20 years and 10 months on two charges of selling counterfeit drugs, but was granted bail pending a final verdict, the United Evening News reported yesterday.

The Liberty Times quoted prosecutors on the case as saying that Lo, 61, has long worked in pharmaceutical sales and had an established network of contacts. After his release, Lo had resumed importing counterfeit drugs and that his operations were monitored by police until the raid on Saturday.

Lo imported pills in bulk from China to be packaged in Taiwan, the Liberty Times reported. The packaging used on the fakes can be difficult to distinguish from the real thing.

The public can go online to the department's drug identification Web site at www.doh.gov.tw/cht/medicine.htm for file pictures of the real packages.

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