Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered a further probe into tens of millions of counterfeit medical gloves reportedly imported into the US from Thailand, following an investigative report by CNN.
The PM has assigned Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit to look into the matter, said government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana on Monday.
Some 80 million counterfeit rubber gloves were believed imported into the US and the Commerce Ministry has asked for further information about the case from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said Mr Laksanawisit.
Pol Col Neti Wongkulap, commissioner of Sub-Division 4 of the Consumer Protection Police Division (CPPD), said the two cases reported by CNN were first dealt with last December by the Crime Suppression Division who have already forwarded these cases to public prosecutors.
No fraud cases associated with the unauthorised medical device production cases have so far been submitted to the CPPD, Pol Col Wongkulap said.
Normally, when it comes to a fraud case involving medical gloves, it typically involves one of three common forms — namely used gloves that have been washed and repackaged, sub-standard medical gloves imported from China and repackaged, and sub-standard medical gloves produced locally in Thailand, he said.
The CNN report concerns two cases of counterfeit medical gloves in Thailand, he said, adding that the first case dealt with the unauthorised production and repackaging of medical gloves and unlawful usage of two trademarks, SkyMed and Sri Trang.
The second case dealt with the production of counterfeit nitrite medical gloves by Athip Chumphon, who had earlier last year made headlines when he was reportedly involved in controversial hoarding of millions of surgical masks during the COVID-19 outbreak, Pol Col Wongkulap said.
While the demand for medical gloves surged globally between late last year and early this year, the police together with the FDA have been detecting and cracking down on many counterfeit products, he said.
Supattra Boonserm, FDA deputy secretary-general, said she told CNN that although tens of millions of used gloves seized in other countries were found in packages containing the SkyMed trademark, they apparently were fake products.
An FDA investigation found that SkyMed had neither imported medical gloves into Thailand nor produced any gloves on its own in the country, she said.
In a raid carried out last December at a warehouse owned by Paddy The Room Trading Co, the authorities found a large volume of used gloves and a number of workers packing those gloves in new packages containing the SkyMed label, she said.