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Low score on pharma survey

CAMBODIA’S pharmaceutical sector has “high growth potential” despite the worst business environment among 16 Asian markets surveyed by Business Monitor International in its quarterly report. The country was ranked last in the region, just below Pakistan.

South Korea and Australia were ranked first and second, respectively.

But the Kingdom would still emerge as a “target for drug-makers in the medium term”, the report said.

BMI forecast Cambodia’s consumption of medical drugs to hit double-digit growth of 11.6 percent over five years, growing from 711 billion riels (US$172 million) in 2009 to 1,232 billion riels ($302 million) in 2014.

It said the Kingdom’s market was held back by a number of factors, finding that: “Counterfeit drugs are a major constraint on legitimate drug market growth.”

The report warned that Cambodia would lose out to “other locations currently vying to attract multinational investment” if more was not done to protect intellectual property rights. The government is currently developing its intellectual property regulations, including the set up of a commercial court, to protect rights.

But the future looks bright. Medical importers agreed that demand was increasing.

Lou You Kong, business development manager at KHF Co, said the firm imported just $20,000 to $30,000 worth of Chinese drugs five years ago. Now the figure is closer to $400,000 or $500,000.

“My opinion is that [growth] is due to Cambodian people preferring Chinese products because they don’t have enough money for high-price products,” he said.

But Venu Gopal, operations manager at Realight Health Care, which only supplies European brands, said there was a burgeoning market for more expensive drugs as well.

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