The rapid unwinding of China's COVID restrictions in December triggered a wave of stockpiling of antiviral drugs, including Pfizer's Paxlovid, but access to that treatment has been limited due to low domestic supply. That opened the door to a thriving black market for Indian generic versions and copies that turned out to be fake.
Paxlovid was initially available at prices of 1,890 to 3,000 yuan ($280 to $445) for a five-day course of 30 pills only through designated COVID hospitals and some high-end private hospitals. Although Pfizer has increased supplies and the Chinese government has been pushing to make the drug more widely available, only a small number of residents can get their hands on it. Consequently, many people are turning to shady overseas buyers.