Overview of the Arrests
In a recent crackdown on fake pharmacists operating in Bangkok, 13 individuals were arrested by the Consumer Protection Police Division (CPPD) following a series of coordinated raids. These raids took place at 14 pharmacies across the capital, instigated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). During these operations, authorities seized 156 pieces of evidence worth 1.4 million baht.
Background of the Fake Pharmacists
Among the arrested counterfeit pharmacists, five had not studied beyond high school. They were found dispensing medicines to customers and were subsequently charged with practicing the profession without a license. The individuals were reportedly earning a monthly salary of between 12,000 and 18,000 baht. They served as stand-ins when the certified full-time pharmacists, who visited the stores once a week, were absent.
The ‘4×100’ Drug Cocktail Connection
The arrested individuals were accused of illegally selling cough syrup, which is commonly used as a base for creating a narcotic drink known as “4×100.” This concoction typically includes three other ingredients: kratom leaves, cola, and a tranquillizer or pain-killer. The raids were initiated in response to an announcement by the Pharmacy Council of Thailand, which reminded pharmacies of their obligation to employ at least one full-time pharmacist.
Exploiting Legal Loopholes for Cough Syrup Quotas
According to Pol Col Supoj Phumyam, chief of Consumer Protection Police Sub-division 4, some of the raided pharmacies were part of larger chains. This was a strategic move to increase their legal quotas of cough syrup permitted for sale. Each branch could legally acquire up to 300 bottles of cough syrup per month. The pharmacies involved in selling syrup for producing “4×100” were predominantly located in the Ramkhamhaeng, Hua Mak, and Lat Phrao areas.
During the raids, investigators confiscated 24,722 bottles of cough syrup and 4,150 capsules of Tramadol, a controlled pain-relief substance, among other drugs.
Ensuring Compliance and Protecting Consumers
These coordinated efforts by the CPPD and FDA aim to reduce the prevalence of counterfeit pharmacists and protect consumers from the dangers of unauthorized pharmaceutical practices, including the illicit sale of cough syrup for drug production. By enforcing the Pharmacy Council of Thailand’s guidelines, authorities hope to maintain professional standards and ensure the safety and well-being of the public.