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Is Purchasing Pfizer's Covid Drug, Paxlovid, through U.S. Acquaintances Legal?

Due to the surge in the number of people infected with Covid-19 in China, MPLG has conducted online searches, and the online data showed that Paxlovid was able to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death of high-risk patients by about 88%. Therefore, many people tried their best to buy Pfizer's Paxlovid from the Internet or through their acquaintances in the United States, and the drug’s price skyrocketed to tens of thousands of yuan. As U.S. attorneys, it is necessary for us to help you understand the laws related to prescription drugs in the United States.

First, Paxlovid is only available to patients with a doctor's prescription, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Based on this, take the law of California as an example: if a prescription drug is required, the patient must go to the hospital or go through a family doctor, or a nurse who has the right to prescribe. These authorized professionals will then prescribe the needed medication within the scope of personal use. If the patient makes false statements or asks the doctor to prescribe drugs for relatives, it is fraud.

Furthermore, even if there are unused prescription drugs for an individual, it is illegal to give them to another individual to use without permission.

Third, if you need to take prescription drugs out of the country, you must also carry the prescription issued by the doctor; giving your own prescription drugs to others constitutes illegal possession and illegal transportation. If you charge a fee, your action becomes illegal reselling, which is a felony under the federal law.

Fourth, all prescription drugs in the United States must be taken correctly according to the doctor's advice.

Applicable laws include, but are not limited to, the following:

“Distribution of the authorized PAXLOVID will be controlled by the United States (U.S.) Government for use consistent with the terms and conditions of [the Emergency Use Authorization]…and PAXLOVID MAY ONLY BE USED BY HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS to treat…COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients.”


U.S. Food & Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization


A drug intended for use by man which…is limited…to use under the professional supervision of a practitioner licensed by law to administer such drug, shall be dispensed only upon a written or oral prescription of a practitioner licensed by law to administer such drug.


"No person shall make a false statement in any prescription, order, report, or record, required by this division."


Cal. Health & Safety Code § 11173(b)  

"[A]ny person…who…prescribes for any…physical…condition of any person, without having at the time of so doing a valid, unrevoked, or unsuspended certificate…or without being authorized to perform the act pursuant to a certificate…is guilty of a public offense, punishable by a fine [and] by imprisonment."


A real case: In mid-December 2022, a friend took an 85-year-old elderly person to a certain hospital in Beijing for treatment. The elderly person was diagnosed with pneumonia by a CT scan. The hospital had Paxlovid at the time, but the doctor did not prescribe the drug. The reason is that the elder’s antigen test was negative (fever remained after turning negative), and the fever lasted for more than a week. The doctor prescribed antibiotics for 4 days in a targeted manner, and after taking the prescribed antibiotics, the elder recovered. At that time, the price of Paxlovid in the hospital was more than 2,000 RMB. Even private hospitals have very strict requirements for taking Paxlovid, not to mention visits that are not made by the patients themselves, where the doctors will never prescribe medicine at will.

Information published on Pfizer China's official website states that PAXLOVID™ is a COVID-19 drug for the treatment of high-risk adults with mild to moderate symptoms, such as those patients with severe high-risk factors such as advanced age, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, etc. Patients should use the medicine strictly according to the instructions under the guidance of doctors, and pay close attention to the interaction information with other drugs listed in the instructions during use.”

MOSAIC Paradigm Law Group would like to remind everyone that the more critical the situation is, the calmer we should be, especially those with friends in the United States. While we love our family, we must abide by the local laws. It is best for our family to see a doctor in time, follow the doctor's advice, and treat the symptoms.

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