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Eight pharmacies still lack licences

AT least eight illegal pharmacies in Phnom Penh have failed to apply for licences in time to meet a deadline set by the Ministry of Health and could face court action, officials said Tuesday.

Pharmacies operating illegally were given until February 28 to apply for licences from the ministry or face closure as part of a government crackdown.

Sok Sokun, director of Phnom Penh’s health department, said that although most of the 116 pharmacies previously operating illegally had either applied for licences or closed by the end of last month, eight had ignored repeated warnings.

“We will still continue to warn these pharmacies. If they do not obey the law, we will complain to the court,” he said.

Health officials have pursued similar complaints against other “stubborn business owners” in the past, he added, forcing compliance in those cases.

“We will adopt strict measures and take the eight unlicenced pharmacies to court if they do not agree [to apply for licences],” he said.

This warning follows a Monday raid on a pharmacy in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district, where authorities discovered 15 drugs later found to be fake, Sok Sokun said.

Even with the closure of illegal pharmacies, however, preventing the distribution of fake and unregulated medicines remains a challenge.

Ly Rosamy, deputy governor of Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district, said that despite the fact that at least 23 owners of pharmacies had thumbprinted promises to halt the sale of illegal or fake drugs, traffickers were still buying the banned substances from the businesses and distributing them to factory workers in the district.

Pharmacy owners “obeyed because they are smart people, but we are still concerned that [others] are selling the drugs to factory workers”, she said.

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