Illegal remdesivir seized in US en route to Mexico

Unauthorised shipments of the COVID-19 antiviral therapy remdesivir have been seized by US enforcement agencies in transit to Mexico, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The shipments – which are thought to be either falsified versions or a smuggled generic remdesivir unauthorised for sale in either the US or Mexico – have been intercepted on planes arriving from Bangladesh and India, says the report.

Remdesivir was developed by Gilead Sciences, which sells it as Veklury, but is also produced under license by several generic drugmakers in a number of countries including India, Pakistan and Egypt.

In recent months, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers have seized more than 100 shipments of suspect remdesivir that have been referred to the Department of Homeland Security for further investigation, says the WSJ, citing people familiar with the matter.

The seized items are reported to be 10-vial packages with generic names – i.e. not Veklury – and are generally labelled as sample or testing kits.

There have been widespread reports of illegal remdesivir being seized in India, including some vials that seem to be counterfeit as they contain liquid, not the usual dry powder that needs to be reconstituted with sterile water before dosing.

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