Author Topic: 37m flu, cold pills go missing over 3 years  (Read 1360 times)

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Johnnie F.

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37m flu, cold pills go missing over 3 years
« on: March 17, 2012, 10:28:58 AM »
37m flu, cold pills go missing over 3 years

UDON THANI : More than 37 million tablets of cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine have gone missing from Udon Thani Hospital over the past three years, authorities say.

Pseudoephedrine is a common decongestant and a chemical precursor in the production of methamphetamine.

Udon Thani police chief Pol Col Kowit Jaroenwatthanasak said a senior pharmacist at Udon Thani Centre Hospital was found to have smuggled nearly 65,000 cold and allergy pills out of the hospital late last month.

At the request of police, the hospital looked into the history of its purchases and inventory management of the drugs over the past three years.

A police probe of the documents supplied by the hospital found that in 2010, the hospital purchased 19.58 million pseudoephedrine-based pills but 19.43 million of them went missing, Pol Col Kowit said.

Last year, it bought 17.5 million pills but 17.26 million of them had disappeared. This year, it had bought 1.09 million pills but 910,500 could not be found, he said.

In total, 37.6 million pseudoephedrine-based tablets had gone missing from Udon Thani Hospital over the past three years, he said.

Police would apply to have more of pharmacist Somchai Saekao's assets frozen, after learning he held shares of the hospital's cooperatives worth more than 3 million baht.

The Office of the Narcotics Control Board recently froze 7 million baht in the suspect's bank accounts and seized his car.

Police say they also suspect that a senior pharmacist at Thong Saeng Khan Hospital in Uttaradit was involved in smuggling 975,000 pills of pseudoephedrine-based medicine which went missing from that hospital.

Another case of missing pills came to light last week.

Supat Thatpetch, director of Kamalasai Hospital in Kalasin, lodged a complaint on Thursday claiming more than 356,000 pills of pseudoephedrine-based Actifed had gone missing from the hospital.

The Public Health Ministry has ordered state hospitals to stop buying and distributing pseudoephedrine-based medicines. Probes into the missing drugs will be completed next week.

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Johnnie F.

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Officials take action on missing hospital drugs
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2012, 10:32:28 AM »
Officials take action on missing hospital drugs

Authorities are taking action against those involved in the embezzlement of medicines containing pseudoephedrine from state hospitals amid concerns that the medications might be used to produce methamphetamine.

In Udon Thani, police are trying to track down Somchai sae Khow, a 41-year-old pharmacist based at Udon Thani Hospital.

He is accused of embezzling 65,000 pseudoephedrine-containing tablets from the hospital.

Somchai has been on the run since the alleged embezzlement came to light. The Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) ordered the seizure of Bt7 million cash in Somchai's bank account, as well as his car.

"We have found that he has also held shares in Udon Thani Hospital's Co-operative, and they are worth more than Bt3 million," Udon Thani police station superintendent Colonel Kowit Jarernwattanasak said yesterday.

Somchai Bhaesaj pharmacy, which was established by Somchai, remains open. His mother owns and operates the shop.

Asked where her son was, she said: "I don't know. But I believe he will turn himself in to police for sure."

The mother said her son should not be held solely responsible for all the missing medicines, as she believed other people were involved.

According to Kowit, Udon Thani Hospital reported that more than 37.6 million pseudoephedrine-containing tablets had gone missing during the past three years.

"More officials will be summoned for questioning," Kowit said.

Meanwhile, Kalasin Governor Somsak Suwansujarit instructed police and public-health officials to pursue seriously those involved in embezzling medicine.

"If officials are found guilty, their punishment will be harsher" than what other convicts would face, Somsak said.

He was speaking after an investigation revealed that up to 356,535 Actifed tablets went missing from Kamalasai Hospital. Actifed is a cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine.

"Each tablet can be used to produce three or four tablets of methamphetamine or [a quantity of] crystal meth," Kalasin public-health chief Dr Pisit Uawongkoon said.

He said that apart from Actifed, some other medicines had also gone missing from the hospital.

"I have launched a probe against three officials, all of whom have been transferred out of the hospital," Pisit said.

Kalasin police chief Pol Maj-General Kanisorn Noynart said evidence clearly suggested that officials responsible for medicine inventory must have been involved.

"But we have to determine which ones," he said. "Financial transactions of suspects will be cross-checked."

He said the National Police Office and ONCB would be asked to investigate the case jointly.

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thaiga

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Re: 37m flu, cold pills go missing over 3 years scandal spreads
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2012, 08:58:36 PM »
Cold pills scandal spreads

As many as 30 public and private hospitals may be linked with a gang that smuggles cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine that is then used by illegal drug makers in Myanmar, according to the Department of Special Investigation.

The department was making progress in the investigation into the smuggling of cold and allergy tablets from three hospitals in three provinces: Udon Thani, Uttaradit and Chiang Mai, said Pol Lt Col Phong-in Inkhao, head of the DSI's security cases office.

Pseudoephedrine is a common decongestant and also a chemical precursor in the production of methamphetamine.

An investigation has found the pills confiscated from hospitals in Uttaradit and Udon Thani were linked to the arrest of a pseudoephedrine smuggling gang in Chiang Mai's San Kamphaeng district last month.

Police examined lot numbers on packages of the confiscated pills and found evidence that three more state-run hospitals, one private hospital, eight clinics and one drugstore were connected with the case in Chiang Mai.

This showed that an organised pseudoephedrine trafficking network was trying to collect cold pills in large quantities and smuggle them into the neighbouring country, officers said.

The smuggled pills were gathered in Chiang Mai's San Kamphaeng district before being sent across the border.

However, investigators suspected that people connected with as many as 30 public and private hospitals might be involved in helping smuggle the pills, Pol Lt Col Phong-in said.

Many public and private hospitals and clinics were found to have purchased pseudoephedrine-based pills in irregularly high quantities, he added.

Authorities revealed earlier that more than 37 million tablets of cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine had gone missing from Udon Thani Hospital over the past three years.

A senior pharmacist at the hospital was alleged to have smuggled nearly 65,000 cold and allergy pills out of the hospital late last month.

Police asked the hospital to review its purchases and the documents showed that in 2010, the hospital purchased 19.58 million pseudoephedrine-based pills but 19.43 million went missing.

Last year, it bought 17.5 million pills but 17.26 million could not be accounted for. So far this year, it had bought 1.09 million pills but 910,500 could not be found.

The Office of the Narcotics Control Board has frozen 7 million baht in the bank accounts of pharmacist Somchai Saekao and seized his car.

Other cases involving a total of 1.3 million missing pills are being investigated in Uttaradit and Kalasin.

The Public Health Ministry has ordered state hospitals to stop buying and distributing pseudoephedrine-based medicines.

Growing concern about abuse of pseudoephedrine-based medication led authorities to ban the over-the-counter sale of Actifed, a popular decongestant, in September last year. It is now a controlled prescription drug available only at hospitals.

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Johnnie F.

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Cold pill scandal widens
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2012, 10:40:46 AM »
Cold pill scandal widens

Hospital chiefs shifted in drug factory probe

Two hospital directors and three pharmacists from hospitals in the North and Northeast have been transferred as the investigation into cold pill smuggling widens.

The Public Health Ministry believes the five accused may have been involved in diverting cold medicines from hospitals in a trans-border smuggling scheme.

Police believe the cold pills are used to make methamphetamines at border drug factories in Myanmar and Laos.

The ministry's order came as the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) announced its intention yesterday to take over the investigation.

Dr Paijit Warachit, permanent secretary of the ministry, said he had transferred the directors of Kamalasai Hospital in Kalasin province and Thongsaenkhan Hospital in Uttaradit province. Three pharmacists from both hospitals were also transferred as well as one from Udon Thani Hospital in Udon Thani province.

Investigations launched by their hospitals and local police suggested they were involved in the loss from hospital stores of cold medicines containing the stimulant pseudoephedrine that is used as a precursor in the production of methamphetamine. Dr Paijit said the Public Health Ministry would conclude a disciplinary investigation against the officials within 30 days.

Meanwhile, DSI director-general Tarit Pengdith said yesterday his department would seek approval from the Special Investigation Committee next Monday to take over the investigation because the smuggling involves a complex network of crimes.

He said that between 2008 and last year, authorities seized 44.4 million cold pills containing pseudoephedrine. The pills had been stolen from the public health system.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says up to 22 hospitals have made suspicious orders for cold medicines. Mr Tarit said if his department takes over the investigation, it will question the hospital directors to find out if false reports were made to cover the deliberate loss of cold medicines from their stores.

The FDA supervises the allocation of medicines to hospitals, clinics and drug stores. The DSI has not found any FDA officials involved, but says inquiries are continuing.

Mr Tarit said the diverted cold medicines were gathered in San Kamphaeng district of Chiang Mai province before being smuggled across the border to drug factories in Myanmar and Laos. Some cold medicines were even transported through Suvarnabhumi airport, he said.

The drug factories are located just across the border to avoid detection, and illicit drugs from the plants are brought into Thailand for sale.

"Cold medicines are gathered in the North before being delivered to neighbouring countries. After the methamphetamines are made over the border, they come to Thailand," Mr Tarit said. Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri said his department had halted supplies of medicines containing pseudoephedrine to small drug stores.

Investigations have taken place at more than 10 hospitals and irregularities are obvious at five hospitals, most of which are in the North and the Northeast, he said. Wrongdoers will face both disciplinary and criminal action.

Mr Witthaya dismissed concerns that stricter controls on cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine would affect patients wanting relief from colds.

He pointed out that controls on pseudoephedrine were nothing new.

Somsak Suwansujarit, governor of Kalasin province, said 350,000 cold pills had been lost from Kamalasai Hospital.

He ordered an investigation into seven officials at the hospital including its director and promised to cooperate with the government's examination of the supplies of precursors for narcotic production.

Pol Lt Col Sa-ard Sunthorn, the DSI's director for security-related cases, checked the drug warehouse at the hospital and is looking into whether cold medicines have been diverted from hospitals in other provinces.

Meanwhile, police are tracing the pharmacists who placed suspicious orders of cold medicines.

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Johnnie F.

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COLD PILL SCANDAL: Pharmacists transferred
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2012, 10:08:06 AM »
COLD PILL SCANDAL

Pharmacists transferred

Two more pharmacists at state hospitals in Chiang Mai have been transferred after authorities said they suspected their hospitals are involved in the cold pill trafficking scandal.

The pharmacists, of Doi Lo Hospital in Doi Lo district and Hot Hospital in Hot district, will work at the Chiang Mai public health office pending an investigation into alleged "unusual orders" of the medicine, Chiang Mai's deputy public health director Dr  Surasing Wisarutrat said yesterday.

An initial inspection found the amounts of the pills reported by the hospitals do not match those recorded by the Food and Drug Administration.

The extended probe into the alleged irregularity is expected within a week, Dr Surasing said.

Earlier, two directors of Kamalasai Hospital in Kalasin province and Thongsaenkhan Hospital in Uttaradit province as well as pharmacists of the two hospitals and the other pharmacist from Udon Thani hospital in Udon Thani also faced job transfers as authorities suspected their hospitals might be involved in cross-border smuggling of the medicine into neighbouring countries.

The cold pills contain the stimulant pseudoephedrine, a precursor in making methamphetamines.

They are believed to be transported to border factories in Myanmar and Laos to make speed pills which were then smuggled back into Thailand.

In another development, police are searching for Somchai Sae Kou, a pharmacist at Udon Thani Hospital, after he was  accused of stealing 65,000 cold pills from his hospital.

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Johnnie F.

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Si Sa Ket joins cold pills scandal
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2012, 02:15:32 PM »
Si Sa Ket joins cold pills scandal

More than 200,000 cold-treatment pills containing the stimulant pseudoephedrine, a precursor in making methamphetamines, have been reported missing from a hospital in Si Sa Ket, as the public hospital scandal spreads.

Phu Sing Hospital director Kitiphoom Juthasamit said on Thursday he had filed a complaint with Phu Sing Police Station on Thursday officially reporting the tablets were missing.

This followed a visit by Department of Special Investigation (DSI) officials, he said.

DSI officials inspected the hospital's records on Wednesday and found the amount of pseudoephedrine pills in the drug distribution records did not match those shown in the hospital’s purchase order reports. More than 200,000 pills were missing, Dr Kithiphoom said.

The discovery is a result of the DSI's ongoing probe into the smuggling of pseudoephedrine-based cold and allergy tablets stolen from local hospitals to Myanmar, where drug makers use them in the production of methamphetamine.

Si Sa Ket health official Dr Prawi Aumpan said he had reported the issue to governor Prateep Kiratirekha today and proposed an inspection panel be set up to investigate the alleged drug  irregularities at the hospital.

DSI officials say an organised pseudoephedrine trafficking network is collecting cold pills in large quantities and smuggling them into Myanmar, and as many as 30 public and private hospitals may be linked to the gang.

Si Sa Ket is the latest province involved in the cold pill trafficking scandal, following Udon Thani, Uttaradit, Chiang Mai and Kalasin.

Udon Thani Hospital director Pichart Dolchalermyutthana last week admitted more than 4,800,0000 pills had gone missing from his hospital alone over the past three years.
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Johnnie F.

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Re: 37m flu, cold pills go missing over 3 years
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2012, 10:24:58 AM »
DSI looking for man who smuggled cold medicine out of country

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) is looking for a person who has been gathering cold medicine containing pseudo-ephedrine from six public hospitals and sending the pills over the border to a drug-making gang, DSI security case chief Pol Lt-Colonel Pong-in Inkhao said yesterday.

DSI is investigating Central Udon Thani Hospital, Uttaradit's Thong Saen Khan Hospital, Si Sa Ket's Phu Sing Hospital, Kalasin's Kamalapisai Hospital and Chiang Mai's Doi Lor Hospital and Hot Hospital.

It says it has had preliminary information from the Public Health Ministry that another 22 hospitals may be involved in the medicine-smuggling network.

A DSI special case committee would consider taking this case up tomorrow, after which a full investigation could proceed, he said. The DSI already had two vital pieces of information: medicine was being siphoned out of hospitals; and it was being amassed in Chiang Mai's San Kamphaeng district to be sent to a drug gang in a neighbouring country.

But the DSI was not aware of the total quantity of medicine missing - the Health Ministry was checking on that, he said. The ministry was also responsible for punishing personnel involved in siphoning off the medicine.

He dismissed a report that the DSI would probe San Kamphaeng Hospital because of suspicion about the hospital's orders for cold medicine.

In Kalasin, police investigating 350,000 "missing" pseudo-ephedrine cold pills at Kamalapisai Hospital initially found that a former Roi Et Hospital employee implicated by Sodcheun Withojit, a pharmacist who is a suspect, as the buyer of the missing medicine, had nothing to do with the crime. She also suffered from a serious health problem.

Police plan to summon Sodcheun and the hospital chief again, as well as some 10 others suspected of being members of the network, Kamalapisai police superintendent Pol Colonel Wanchai Ronnachatchai said yesterday.

Police found no evidence to confirm the accusation against the former Roi Et Hospital employee. She also explained that she left her job due to a health problem and her husband worked as a scavenger. She said she knew Sodcheun as he rented a house in the same part of Muang Roi Et but they weren't very close. Her number was in the pharmacist's cellphone as he had called to ask about her health. The last time they contacted each other was in early March. She said she didn't do anything wrong and didn't know why the pharmacist had accused her.

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Johnnie F.

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Officials suspected in hospital stealing
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2012, 10:28:10 AM »
Officials suspected in hospital stealing

NEW PROBES INTO COLD PILL SAGA

Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri has admitted senior health officials might be involved in the embezzlement of massive quantities of cold pills from state hospitals.

Mr Witthaya said yesterday he has instructed the permanent secretary for public health, Dr Paijit Warachit, to compile information that could lead to disciplinary action against certain officials.

He has also told all medical facilities under the Public Health Ministry to stop dispensing cold pills containing the stimulant pseudoephedrine while the Council of State reviews the government's plan to categorise the drug as a medication that affects mental and neural conditions.

"Inquiry committees have been set up to investigate suspects. Those committees must be thorough and complete their investigations. Of those suspected of being involved in the embezzling, several have already been transferred to inactive posts at the ministry's headquarters," he said.

Mr Witthaya said he had received another report that more than 200,000 cold pills have disappeared from a hospital in Si Sa Ket. He has told Dr Paijit to launch an investigation.

Mr Witthaya said he had also assigned his adviser Pasit Sakdanarong and his aides to look into the case and check for people who were involved in the disappearance of the cold pills.

"They will not only work on cases related to pseudoephedrine, but will look into other products containing addictive substances. They will do it within the framework of their authority and will focus on treatment," Mr Witthaya said.

He said Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung would direct the Royal Thai Police operation to tackle drug trafficking, while the Public Health Ministry would scrutinise procedures among agencies involved in procuring medication.

Any officials who had failed to abide by agency regulations will face disciplinary action.

"So far the Public Health Ministry has scrutinised all of its medication records and has scrapped the dispensation of cold pills containing pseudoephidrine for two weeks, until the Council of State's ruling," Mr Witthaya said.

He said if the Council of State rules that pseudoephidrine is a substance that affects mental and neural conditions, the Public Health Ministry would devise measures to closely trace and record the dispensation of all cold pills with pseudoephidrine.

Meanwhile, the director of Phu Sing Hospital in Si Sa Ket province yesterday denied the report that more than 200,000 cold pills containing pseudoephidrine had disappeared from the facility.

Dr Kittiphum Juthasamit said he had thoroughly checked the hospital's records and stockpile. Only about 30,000 of the pills have disappeared.

The hospital was tracking down where the 30,000 pills have been distributed or trafficked to, Dr Kittiphum said.

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Johnnie F.

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Cold-drug case narrows to 7 suspects
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2012, 10:46:26 AM »
Cold-drug case narrows to 7 suspects

An ongoing probe has suggested that seven government officials, most of them pharmacists, have committed grave disciplinary offences in embezzling a huge amount of pseudoephedrine-containing tablets out of state hospitals.

The missing pseudoephedrine tablets have raised great concern because they can be used to produce methamphetamine.

"If found guilty, the maximum punishment is dismissal from the services without any severance pay or pension," Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri said yesterday. The probe was ongoing, he said.

He added that even after the panel headed by the Public Health Ministry's inspector-general concluded its probe, the accused officials would still have a chance to defend themselves before the relevant civil-service subcommittees.

To date, the probe has pointed the finger at seven government officials at the Kamalasai Hospital in Kalasin, the Phu Sing Hospital in Si Sa Ket, the Udon Thani Hospital in Udon Thani, the Thong Saen Khan Hospital in Uttaradit, and the Hot and Doi Lor hospitals in Chiang |Mai.

Department of Special Investigation (DSI) senior official Pol Lt-Colonel Sa-ard Sunthorn said his team had gathered much information on the medicine-embezzlement cases in Chiang Mai but these cases had not yet been transferred to the DSI.

"We will investigate further if the cases come under DSI jurisdiction," he said.

Before the DSI can officially take up any case, it must win approval from its board.

To date, investigation of medicine embezzlement at state hospitals is still under police jurisdiction.

"A primary investigation has shown that the medicines went missing from the Hot and Doi Lor hospitals. We have established another committee to look into the case further to determine why they have gone missing," Chiang Mai public-health deputy chef Dr Surasing Wisarurat said.

Meanwhile, police yesterday announced the seizure of 500,000 methamphetamine tablets and 5.4 kilos of crystal methamphetamine.

"Police at a checkpoint in Lamphun intercepted a pick-up last Friday and found the illicit drugs," Li police station superintendent Colonel Sompoj Sonkanok said.

He said the pick-up's driver, Pirun Rittitraipop, 33, was now in detention.

According to Sompoj, the suspect confessed he was paid to deliver the illicit drugs to Bangkok. Pirun is now charged with having an illicit drug (type 1) with an intention to sell.

An informed source said Pirun was fluent in French because he had been a mercenary in France for a long time.

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Johnnie F.

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Two more state hospitals implicated in drug scam
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2012, 11:29:32 AM »
DSI to take over cold pills case

Two more state hospitals implicated in drug scam

The Department of Special Investigation is to take over the probe into missing cold pills after the number of state hospitals implicated in the smuggling of medications containing a stimulant used in the production of narcotics grew to eight.

Soem Ngam hospital in Lampang province and Nong Ki hospital in Buri Ram are the latest two to have been found covering up their losses of cold pills.

The Public Health Ministry has completed its two-week preliminary investigation into missing cold pills containing pseudoephedrine, a precursor in methamphetamine production.

Of the 875 hospitals under its umbrella, the ministry found eight were involved in diverting the medicine in a trans-border smuggling operation.

The other six hospitals are Udon Thani hospital, Thong Saen Khan hospital in Uttaradit province, Kamalasai hospital in Kalasin, Hod and Doi Lo hospitals in Chiang Mai, and Phu Sing hospital in Si Sa Ket.

Seven directors and pharmacists from the six hospitals had already been punished, said permanent secretary Paijit Warachit, and executives and staff from Soem Ngam and Nong Ki hospitals are under investigation.

Those involved in the cover-up of the disappearing drugs would face disciplinary charges as soon as the official report is released, he said.

Dr Paijit said Chiang Mai's San Sai hospital would have to be investigated further.

The hospital claimed its missing cold pills had been distributed to its network of tambon clinics.

The DSI's special cases committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, yesterday resolved to take up the case, said DSI chief Tarit Pengdith.

The DSI will work with the Public Health Ministry, the FDA, the Royal Police Office, the Office of Narcotics Control Board and the Scientific Crime Detection Division, said Mr Tarit.

It will apply special measures to investigate the smuggling of cold pills, including use of electronic devices to tap the telephone conversations of suspects.

The DSI's initial investigation into 13 hospitals and clinics suspected of involvement in the cold pills scam found some links to the arrest of a pseudoephedrine smuggling gang in Chiang Mai's San Kamphaeng district on Feb 18, said Mr Tarit.

The DSI will today ask police investigation teams to hand over their investigation reports.

Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri last month banned over-the-counter sales of cold pills containing pseudoephedrine.

They can now only be prescribed by doctors at hospitals and clinics. However, of 413 pharmacies randomly checked, 29 were found to still be selling the remedies, said Food and Drug Administration secretary-general Pipat Yingseree. They will each have their licences revoked for at least three months.

Police say 48.32 million cold pills containing pseudoephedrine have been confiscated in 40 seizures between 2006 and 2012. Up to 36 million of the tablets had been smuggled into Thailand from overseas, particularly from South Korea, he said. The Public Health Ministry is proposing to list medicines containing pseudoephedrine as controlled substances under the Psychotropic Substances Act.

Meanwhile, the Criminal Court yesterday sentenced four tribespeople _ Arphae, alias Kasem sae Yang, 31; Jalae Jaha, 27; Nathee, alias Dao Naju, 23; and Nu Najoo, 31, to 20 years in prison each for smuggling more than 8 million cold pills containing pseudoephedrine between May 10 and Nov 24 last year.

Arphae's penalty was later halved for his confession, while the other three had their terms reduced to 13 years and 4 months as they had given useful testimonies during the investigation.

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Johnnie F.

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7m pseudoephedrine pills unaccounted for at Udon hospital
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2012, 11:10:56 AM »
Cold Pills

7m pseudoephedrine pills unaccounted for at Udon hospital

More than seven million pseudoephedrinecontaining tablets, one of which can reportedly make three amphetamine pills, have gone missing over the past three years from an Udon Thani hospital that is currently under investigation, a senior resident pharmacist said yesterday.

The missing tablets were worth more than Bt19 million, which was allegedly pocketed by Somchai saeKhow, a senior pharmacist, chief pharmacist Damrongkiat Tangjaroen reportedly told police during an interview. Somchai is on the run and wanted by police.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI), which has taken over pseudoephedrine cases at many hospitals from police, has dispatched agents to many hospitals in the Central region, the Northeast and the North to conduct initial inspections and compile evidence and relevant documents.

An investigation at San Sai Hospital in Chiang Mai would determine in the next two days how many pseudoephedrinecontaining tablets were missing and who would be held responsible.

The number of pseudoephedrinecontaining tablets ordered from the Food and Drug Admnistration is much higher than what was found in the hospital's inventory, said Surasing Wissarutrat, head of the provincial public health office.

At Kamalasai Hospital in Kalasin, more than 350,000 pseudoephedrinecontaining tablets were found to be missing from its inventory. Seven staffers, including the hospital director, have been questioned extensively.

All hospitals suspected of involvement in the pseudoephedrine cases are staterun, but a private hospital in eastern Bangkok has been identified as possibly being involved.

A police source claimed to have found a connection between one of the seven staffers and pharmacists at private hospitals. The DSI is also looking into the connection and possible wrongdoing at other private hospitals, the source said.

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thaiga

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Re: 37m flu, cold pills go missing over 3 years
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2012, 01:05:55 PM »
Ministry aides linked to cold pill scandal

A probe into a suspected cold pill smuggling racket is closing in on the aides of senior health ministry officials.


Police and drugs officials inspect a large number of empty cold pill packets which were dumpedin the forest in Chiang Mai’s San Kamphaengdistrict. Police believe the packets contained as manyas 5 million pills. CHEEWINSATTHA
A close aide to the public health minister yesterday handed over evidence related to the racket to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), which has taken up the probe as a special case.

Earlier, DSI chief Tarit Pengdith met senior public health officials including public health permanent secretary Paijit Warachit and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) secretary-general Pipat Yingseree to discuss the scam.

Up to 48.3 million cold pills are thought to have been stolen from state hospitals and smuggled across the border to make methamphetamines.

Pasit Sakdanarong, adviser to Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri, said the evidence was based on an internal investigation into cold pill thefts at six state hospitals.

The evidence suggested close aides of senior public health officials might be linked to the scam, said Mr Pasit, who also chairs a committee on drug suppression and rehabilitation.

Authorities believe the cold pills, containing pseudoephedrine, were diverted from hospital stores and supplied to methamphetamine factories. Inspections are being carried out at 875 hospitals nationwide.

Mr Tarit said yesterday the DSI has decided to target the network of middlemen who order drugs for their customers.

Police and drug authorities yesterday inspected a large number of empty cold pill packets which were found discarded in a forest in Chiang Mai's San Kamphaeng district.

The empty packets, some of which were shredded, could have contained as many as 5 million tablets from 10 different cold remedies, police say.

The labels on some packets said the pills were produced in Bangkok and Nakhon Pathom's Sam Phran district.

Wichai Chaimongkol, director of Narcotics Control Board's Region 5, said the packets were found at two sites, 3km apart.

Meanwhile, a senior health official in Lampang yesterday confirmed irregularities in the purchase of 4,000 cold pills at Soem Ngam hospital.

Prasert Kijsuwan, a deputy provincial health official, said the irregularities involved the hospital's pharmacist who bought the pills to supply her drug store.

He said the pharmacist resigned to show responsibility before the scandal broke.

In Kalasin's Kamalasai district, meanwhile, a pharmacist has started talking to investigators about pills which have gone missing from his hospital.

Pol Col Wanchai Ronnachartchai, superintendent of Kamalasai police station, said the pharmacist has been charged in connection with the theft of 350,000 cold pills which went missing from Kamalasai hospital. The pills were sent to Roi Et province

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Re: cold pills tracks down buyers via money transfers, calls
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2012, 01:24:40 PM »
The buyers of pseudoephedrine tablets that went missing from government hospitals have been identified and tracked down through their money transactions and phone conversations, the Department of Special Investigation said yesterday.

Asked whether the buyers and their middlemen were high-ranking Public Health Ministry officials - as stated by Phasit Sakdanarong, a ministry adviser- DSI director-general Tharit Phengdit said people at many levels were involved.

"But don’t jump to a conclusion yet over which levels. Inspection and fact-finding takes time," he added.

The DSI had heeded Phasit’s tip-offs and scrutinised them, he said, adding that "small fish" would be immune and treated as witnesses in exchange for their testimony against the "big fish".

Phasit said earlier he had submitted details of his unheralded visits to six hospitals to the DSI even before it had decided to take over the pseudoephedrine cases from police.

"The visits without prior appointment yielded documents and evidence valuable to the DSI investigation, and those obtained from two of the six hospitals have implicated high-ranking ministry officials," he said.

Tharit held a meeting with ministry officials to discuss an automatic DSI takeover in future cases involving another nine medicinal items and cosmetics. Jurisdiction could possibly be approved by April through amendment to DSI regulations.

The meeting also agreed to officially consolidate efforts comprising all relevant agencies -including Food and Drug Administration, the ministry and its Department of Health Service Support - in the ongoing crackdown. National police chief Pol General Priewpan Damapong denied that local police in provinces where pseudoephedrine had surfaced had not cooperated with DSI after it took over the cases. He said pseudoephedrine had been treated as an illicit drug and all anti-narcotics units, including the police’s unit - apart from the Office of Narcotics Control Board and Anti-money Laundering Office - were working well together.

Wrappers and packages of pseudoephedrine tablets were found burned and discarded yesterday in the Kok River in Chiang Mai, where two government hospitals had reported pseudoephedrine cases. The debris weighed about 5 kg and carried serial numbers which made it easier for police and DSI agents to track down its delivery destinations, Tharit said.

An internal investigation at Kamalasai hospital, where 350,000 pseudoephedrine pills had disappeared, would be completed this week. Hospital staff suspected of involvement had given useful information, said local police who helped DSI question suspects, offering protection to those willing to speak out.
http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/DSI-tracks-down-buyers-of-cold-pills-via-money-tra-30178964.html
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thaiga

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Re: cold pill Suvarnabhumi a major channel (smuggled pseudoephedrine)
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2012, 01:53:37 PM »
Suvarnabhumi a major channel for smuggled pseudoephedrine pills: police

BANGKOK:-- The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) yesterday revealed that about 83 per cent of the smuggling of cold medicine with pseudoephedrine happened through Suvarnabhumi Airport, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering ending imports of the cold medicine after one year.

DSI chief Tharit Pengdit spoke yesterday at a seminar on the matter by the Thai Journalists Association and the Isara Institute Thai Press Development Foundation. He said the DSI investigation found that about 17 per cent of the pseudoephedrine medicine was siphoned off the public health system while the rest 83 per cent was smuggled through Suvarnabhumi Airport as well as the southern border. Hence the authorities must tackle such smuggling channels besides acting against those siphoning off the medicine from hospitals.

He said the smuggling of pseudoephedrine medicine was because many countries did not strictly control it. People carried the medicine as if they were a cosmetic or extracted ginseng, and one bag could carry tens of thousands of tablets.

As for the Public Health Ministry's key information including names of involved officials up to the rank of former minister, Tharit said DSI suspected they might be involved in the medicine rationing and sending them for narcotics production. Or, they might gain in the form of commission or special returns. He urged those involved in the wrongdoing to give information to DSI as case witness.

Another speaker, FDA narcotics control division chief Prapon Angtrakul, said the Public Health Ministry and his office had discussed with related field doctors and initially agreed that pseudoephedrine medicine was no longer needed in Thailand. Hence, the FDA would allow the current stocks of the medicine to be distributed for one year, while the rest would be destroyed. He added that it wouldn't be imported in future. Phenylephrine medicine, which was more complicated and could cause an explosion if turned into narcotics, would be used instead, he added.

Prapon said two countries exported pseudoephedrine medicine. About 85 per cent of the medicine was smuggled into Thailand from one country while about 3 million to 4 million tablets were smuggled in from a country that has a border with Thailand.

The Thai FDA had already contacted the two countries' FDA offices because some Thai companies had ordered the medicine from suppliers there, he added.

The proposal to list pseudoephedrine medicine on the Psychotropic Substance Schedule 2 (only hospitals can purchase directly from FDA) would be signed by Public Health Minister Wittaya Buranasiri tomorrow for announcement in the Royal Gazette, he added.

An adviser to the Public Health Minister, Pasit Sakdanarong, said that the ministry's initial probe found that there was nothing wrong with the public health system but the people who operated the system did wrong. Revealing that there were attempts to tamper with the case by discrediting witnesses, he said the probe would continue and punish those involved according to evidence and facts.

Meanwhile, Pol Maj-General Kanitsorn Noinart, commander of Kalasin provincial police, urged police at all 43 precincts to work with the DSI in investigating the missing 350,000 tablets of pseudoephedrine medicine from Kamalapisai Hospital.

A pharmacist at Chiang Mai Nakhonping Hospital and owner of Om Muag Pharmacy, Methee Pol-ard, from whose pharmacy 6,539 bottles of pseudoephedrine medicine had been seized earlier, told a press conference yesterday that he wasn't involved in drug trafficking. Saying he did not break the law by selling the drug, he said that after the ban on over-the-counter sale of pseudoephedrine medicine, he had kept his stocks in storage until the suppliers took it back. He said he had bought the cold medicine in a bulk quantities after hearing the prices would increase. He called for justice as the news affected his professional reputation.

Meanwhile, Chiang Mai's San Khamphaeng police revealed that emptied medicine packs, found on March 28 in a wooded area, contained 1.7 million tablets. They submitted the emptied packs to FDA to check the lot numbers to trace them.
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Udon Thani: Pharmacist fired for cold pills thefts
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2012, 10:31:14 AM »
Pharmacist fired for cold pills thefts

A pharmacist at state-run Udon Thani Hospital has been fired for stealing cold pills containing pseudoephedrine.

Public Health Ministry inspector Surachet Sathitniramai yesterday said an inquiry panel has investigated the disappearance of a massive amount of pills.

As a result, the panel decided to dismiss senior pharmacist Somchai sae Khor from the civil service.

The pharmacist is accused of stealing 65,000 cold pills from the public hospital. He is now on the run.

Mr Surachet said the Udon Thani Hospital director and chief pharmacist were involved in the missing pill saga. However, they will face light disciplinary action for negligence of duty.

The Department of Special Investigation, meanwhile, is thoroughly checking the records of the purchases of cold pills containing pseudoephedrine involving a pharmacist at a Buri Ram hospital.

Sompong Teeratha, a pharmacist at public-run Nong Ki Hospital in Nong Ki district, was found to have used the hospital's name falsely to make his own purchases of pseudoephedrine-based cold pills. Pseudoephedrine can be used to produce illegal methamphetamines.

Mr Sompong, who has been temporarily moved to the provincial public health office, was accused of purchasing 90,000 tablets and 1,500 liquid bottles of medicine containing pseudoephedrine for his own pharmacy.

A team of DSI investigators yesterday met Nong Ki Hospital director Boonhom Kaewchana to probe the purchase of pseudoephedrine-based cold pills.

The investigation found the amount of cold pills purchased by the hospital last year contradicted its report sent to the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA said the public hospital had bought 190,000 tablets and 4,500 bottles of liquid medicine containing pseudoephedrine. However, the hospital insisted it purchased only 100,000 tablets and 3,000 bottles.

Somchai Maharnsuek, a member of the DSI team, said the investigation found the hospital had nothing to do with the purchase of additional amounts of cold pills by Mr Sompong.

Evidence showed that Mr Sompong had used the hospital's name to buy the medicine for sale at his pharmacy without permission, said Mr Somchai.

The DSI will check Mr Sompong's purchases over the past two years, said the DSI investigator.

Also, the privately run Siamrad Chiang Mai Hospital has accused the hospital's purchasing head of allegedly falsifying documents to buy large quantities of pseudoephedrine-based cold pills.

Tanakit Jitareerattana, spokesman for the Public Health Ministry's committee on illicit drug prevention, said the private hospital in Chiang Mai's Muang district has already filed a complaint with police against the purchasing head for falsifying documents to buy more than 200,000 cold pills.

The accused female staff member had allegedly said she had supplied the pills to a drug firm, said Mr Tanakit.

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Re: 37m flu, cold pills go missing over 3 years UPDATE
« Reply #15 on: April 19, 2012, 12:02:44 PM »
7.2m tablets found missing in Udon Thani

UDON THANI: -- Dr Pichat Chalermdolyuthana, director of the Central Udon Thani Hospital, was transferred to the provincial public health office on April 12, as the Public Health Ministry prepares to set up a factfinding panel to look into missing pseudoephedrine based tablets, Udon Thani Public Health official Dr Sanchai Piyapongkul said yesterday.

The move follows the discovery of 7.2 million cold tablets having gone missing from the hospital since 2010, while hospital pharmacist Somchai Saekhow, 41 - who is on the run and reportedly in Laos - remains elusive. The case has been taken over by the Department Special Investigation (DSI).

Meanwhile, Sanchai said he had instructed all community hospitals to reclaim pseudoephedrinebased cold medicines from healthcare units at the tambon level.

In Chiang Mai's Muang district, two pharmacy salespersons were arrested for allegedly stealing more than 300,000 tablets from Central Memorial Hospital. The suspects maintain their innocence.

Following the recent arrest of a Central Memorial Hospital official, Phitsinee Prasertsri, for allegedly stealing 5,000 pseudoephedrine tablets and forging purchase orders for another 370,000 tablets, the Region 5 Provincial Police announced the arrests of pharmacy salespersons Suparada Thongthiang and Mayuree Luangkreung. They are accused of knowing about Phitsinee's forgery and hence face charges of selling a "Psychotropic Substance Schedule 2" without permission as well as conspiring to forge documents.

However, the two suspects insist that they had sold the medicines to Phitsinee legally and that they had no knowledge about the crime or the forgery. Police have said that they will continue arresting other suspects in relation to this case and have the DSI take it up as well. Police officials are also investigating to see if this case is linked to the dumping of empty cold pill packages in Chiang Mai's San Kamphaeng district and if any drugtrafficking gangs were involved.

An informed source said that police had received an intelligence report that a closeaide of an influential figure in Chiang Mai's Mae Ai district had taken the medicines and removed them from their packages before sending the tablets across the border to a narcoticsmaking factory in a neighbouring country.

As part of the ongoing investigation into coldtablet supplies missing from hospitals, Public Health Ministry's deputy permanentsecretary Dr Sopon Mekthon yesterday told DSI investigators about the system used to control hospitals' prescriptions and the officials involved.

Sopon said the ministry had found suspicious activity in eight staterun hospitals and that disciplinary probes were ongoing, while some officials had been transferred to inactive posts. The investigation, which so far has not found any highranking officials being involved, should be completed within the legal frame of six months.

DSI Bureau of Security Crime 3 director, Pol LtColonel Saard Sunthorn, said the DSI would summon 11 hospital directors and clinic owners to testify today and tomorrow. A DSI source said the department was ready to detain hospital medicine dispensing officials in order to get information leading to bigger fish.
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