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Pfizer complained of copyright violations: NBI arrests trader selling fake Viagra

NBI agent Jose Monsanto (left) shows one of the fake erectile dysfunction pills sold at Golden Ling Merchandising, owned by Chinese national Ali Tang (right). Paul Jun Rosaroso

CEBU, Philippines - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) – 7 yesterday arrested Chinese national Ali Tang for allegedly selling fake Viagra tablets and seized over a million worth of the fake medicine.

Viagra, manufactured by Pfizer, is a prescription medicine used to treat erectile dysfunction. It is also known by its generic name, sildenafil citrate. Viagra is sold in blue diamond-shaped pills with Pfizer written across one side of the tablet.

NBI-7’s Renan Oliva, who handled the case, said that yesterday’s operation stemmed from a complaint for trademark infringement and unfair competition filed by Pfizer consultant Maximo Ocampo.

“Prior to the application and implementation of the search warrant, we conducted a test buy operation first on August 27, 2013 in relation to the complaint filed by Ocampo,” Oliva said.

At exactly 10:40 a.m. yesterday, Tang, the owner of Golden Ling Merchandising, received the search warrant issued by Regional Trial Court judge Ramon Daomilas. The warrant, dated September 23, 2013, however, named a certain Rita Tubongbanua as the owner/proprietor of Golden Ling Merchandising with addresses at Quirino Rodriquez Blg. Osmeña Blvd., corner Colon St., Cebu City.

The NBI seized 383 boxes of fake Viagra, with each box containing four tablets; 15 boxes of another brand of medicine used to treat erectile dysfunction, with each box containing four bottles with 10 tablets; and 8 boxes of yet another brand of erectile dysfunction medicine, with each box containing 12 pills. The NBI said Tang’s store sold the fake Viagra at P150 per box.

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Pfizer’s Ocampo estimated the value of the seized 383 Viagra boxes to be at over P1 million based on the actual prize of authentic Pfizer-made Viagra which is sold at P3,000 per box.

Ocampo said that before Pfizer filed a complaint at the NBI-7, the drug company already took the initiative to do their own investigation.

“We followed several vendors and we saw them getting stocks of Viagra here (Colon Street),” he said.

Rey Villahermosa, 28, one of the four employees of Golden Ling Merchandising said he had no idea that they were selling Viagra. “I was surprised when NBI agents arrived and served a search warrant to our boss,” he said in Cebuano.

According to Villahermosa, Golden Ling started operations two months ago. It was formerly located at the Ludo and Luym Building before transferring to its present location.

The NBI closed the store after yesterday’s operation.

Meanwhile, Oliva told The FREEMAN that the NBI will file the complaint for violation of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines against Tang at the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office today.

Tang, who is temporarily detained at the NBI, refused to comment. -/QSB (FREEMAN)

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