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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Fake meds flood market

Fake meds flood market

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CHRISTOPHER SHAY

A pharmacist who sells medicines near the Russian market inspects her paperwork with pills of doxycycline, an antibiotic with antimalarial properties, on the counter.

Interpol announced last week  in Phnom Penh they had seized US$6.65 million of counterfeit drugs from across Southeast Asia, but even this impressive haul will not significantly affect the counterfeit drug market in Cambodia if more is not done, experts say.

"It is a huge illegal business, and single events in and of themselves will be unlikely to make a dent in the world market of counterfeit drugs," said Thomas Kubic, the president of US-based Pharmaceutical Security Institute.

With porous borders, an impoverished population and a drug distribution system that still relies on more than 1,000 unregistered pharmacies, Cambodia is vulnerable to counterfeits flooding in from other countries. The increased efforts of international organisations and the government in recent years have only made a modest impact.

Current government estimates put the level of counterfeit drugs available in Cambodia at around 10 percent, down from 13 percent in 2003. Considering that the global counterfeit drug market has grown in the last five years, any drop is good news, but with a percentage of pharmaceuticals being fakes, counterfeit drugs remain a stubborn problem in the Kingdom.

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