Turkish authorities refute allegations of expired drugs given to COVID-19 patients

Claims that the antiviral pills Turkey’s Health Ministry uses in COVID-19 treatment are out of date do not reflect reality, the ministry’s Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (TİTCK) said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Licence applications for antivirals containing the active ingredient favipiravir for use in treatments of coronavirus-related conditions were processed “urgently and with priority”, the agency said, and as such, had limited studies at the time of approval for stability.

“It is a routine procedure to update expiry dates as results emerge from studies,” the agency said in the statement.

Turks had raised concerns when several social media users shared photos of favipiravir packaging that had two expiry dates, one printed on the box originally and another in stickers that read “Property of the Turkish Health Ministry”.

According to the agency that authorises sale and use of all pharmaceuticals in Turkey, the second stickers with later expiry dates were placed by drug companies with approval from the ministry.