lørdag 31. desember 2022

As COVID Surges, Chinese Turn to Black Market for Antiviral Drugs

The lack of availability of a crucial COVID-19 drug has fostered a black market in China, as the country battles its worst coronavirus outbreak following the abrupt relaxation of stringent virus control measures earlier this month.

With a severe shortage of approved antivirals such as Paxlovid, which is manufactured by American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Chinese residents have resorted to underground channels to source the drug and various generic medicines, domestic media reported. Scalpers have reportedly been charging as much as 50,000 yuan ($7,170) for a box of Paxlovid — over 20 times its original price of 2,300 yuan — that would be enough for one course of treatment, while generic versions of the medicine sell for around 1,800 yuan.

China approved the use of Paxlovid in February for treating adults who have mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms and a high risk of progressing to a severe condition. It remains the only legally imported medicine for treating the disease, though other generic ones under the brands of Primovir, Paxista, Molnunat, and Molnatris prevail on the black market given Paxlovid’s limited supply and expensive price.