Customs investigates missing medicine

THE Phillipines’s Bureau of Customs is to launch an investigation into how Customs personnel released medicine to a freight forwarder for a fraction of its worth.

In January the Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) released to Majestic US$187,500 worth of pharmaceuticals belonging to Zuellig Pharma. However, Majestic somehow managed to only pay $1,179 duty, an amount calculated as if the consignment was only worth $4,000. The company then attempted to claim the correct amount of duty – $31,263 – back from Zuellig, which refused.

Customs commissioner Napoleon Morales said: “These should not have been released by NAIA customs with the gross undervaluation of the medicines. If these were not recovered, these would have been sold illegally and could be dangerous if administered to patients. That could have translated to over 21,000 lives put at risk.”

With the drugs having sat for three days in potentially unsuitable storage Zuellig is apparently “inclined to destroy the lot”.

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