Only two COVID-19 oral drugs approved and registered by HK authorities, need prescriptions when needed
The spokesman from the Department of Health of Hong Kong, said in an inquiry by the media on December 30 that the two COVID-19 oral drugs at drugstore have been registered as pharmaceutical products in Hong Kong in accordance with the Pharmacy and Poisons Regulations (Cap. 138A).
Paxlovid and Molnupiravir, which are currently supplied in Hong Kong by two drug manufacturers, namely Pfizer Corporation Hong Kong Limited and Merck Sharp & Dohme (Asia) Ltd. are the only pharmaceutical products approved by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong as registered oral drugs for COVID-19 treatment.
The spokesman stressed that currently the two COVID-19 oral drugs could only be supplied to healthcare institutions and doctors in public and private sectors.
Patients could only be prescribed the relevant drugs by registered medical practitioners when needed, and drug retail outlets cannot procure the relevant oral drugs from suppliers nor sell them to the public.
Having considered factors such as patient’s suitability, relevant contraindications and possible side effects of using the two registered COVID-19 oral drugs, the Board has thus imposed the above special restriction to the registration conditions.
The spokesman reiterated that the two COVID-19 oral antiviral drugs belong to Part 1 Third Schedule poisons under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance (the Ordinance), i.e. prescription only medicines. Illegally possession and sale of Part 1 Third Schedule poisons without a doctor’s prescription, and illegal possession and sale of unregistered pharmaceutical products are criminal offences. The maximum penalty for each offence, once convicted, is a fine of $100,000 and two years’ imprisonment.
The spokesman strongly urged members of the public not to buy or use products of doubtful composition or from unknown sources. The safety, quality and efficacy of unregistered pharmaceutical products are not guaranteed.
On 31 December, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) that the CHP was investigating 28 783 additional locally acquired cases that tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, comprising 4 183 cases that tested positive by nucleic acid tests (2 088 confirmed cases, 1 440 asymptomatic cases and 655 cases with pending status) and 24 600 cases that tested positive by rapid antigen tests (RATs) in the past 24 hours. Separately, 424 additional imported cases were reported, including 210 cases that tested positive by nucleic acid tests (81 confirmed cases, 106 asymptomatic cases and 23 cases with pending status) and 214 cases that tested positive by RATs.