Doctors who prescribe unregistered medicines, including vaccines, are as criminally liable as importers and sellers of these products, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief Eric Domingo warned on Wednesday.
Domingo issued the warning two days after San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora said he got two doses of “bootleg” Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine in December last year, even though the country only began its vaccination program in March.
He added that he was immunodeficient and that doctors told him he should get two booster shots from Pfizer-BioNTech.
“Cases can be filed against the doctors and importers and distributors because it is illegal to allow the use of unregistered products,” Domingo said in Filipino.
The FDA approved the compassionate use of the Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine in February for the benefit of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) members.
In June, the FDA granted the vaccine an emergency use authorization (EUA).
Domingo said that recipients of unregistered vaccines are not liable under the law.
The Department of Health (DOH), meanwhile, said it is investigating reports that some people received COVID-19 booster shots even though it has not recommended those.
“We want to find out where the vaccines came from. We also want to find out… why they received the booster,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an interview with Teleradyo.
Vergeire said medical workers would face sanctions if the anti-virus jabs came from the government vaccination sites.
Vergeire reminded the public that the DOH was not yet recommending the use of booster shots.
“We don’t have sufficient evidence to give an appropriate recommendation for booster shots, because studies conducted internationally and here locally are not yet complete,” she said in Filipino.
As of July 11, the Philippines has administered more than 13 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, of which more than 9.6 million were given as first dose.
The government is aiming to vaccinate 58 million Filipinos by year-end to reach herd immunity but only 3.5 million people have been fully vaccinated or 6.08 percent of the government’s target.