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Police task force to crack down on counterfeit drugs

The Ministry of Health will train task force members to identify and confiscate fake and expired medicine in unregistered pharmacies

 NEW DRUG PLANT?

The Cambodian Chamber of Commerce announced in December that an Indian investment group wanted to build a new pharmaceuticals plant that would reduce Cambodia’s dependence on foreign drugs, many of which are counterfeit.

A NEW Ministry of Health task force plans to launch a crackdown next month on pharmacies selling counterfeit over-the-counter drugs.

The task force, composed of police officers and called the Police of Justice for the Ministry of Health, will operate in all of the Kingdom's 24 provinces and municipalities, Chou Yinsim, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Health, told the Post Monday.

"The Police of Justice for the Health Ministry will regularly be patrolling pharmacies," Chou Yinsim said. Members will be trained in identifying and confiscating fake drugs. They will also look for pharmacies selling expired drugs, he said.

"The Police of Justice will have more power to confiscate and vanquish the fake drugs and pharmacies that do not comply with the medical health standards," he said.

Counterfeit dangers

 Counterfeit drugs can pose serious health risks and have been linked to deaths in rural areas, Chou Yinsim said.

The [task force] will have more power to... vanquish the fake drugs.

Both Veng Thai, director of the Phnom Penh Health Department, and Dy Bunchem, director of the Siem Reap Health Department, said they welcomed the crackdown.

Veng Thai said there are 500 pharmacies in Phnom Penh, of which a few are unregistered.

Yim Yann, president of the Pharmacists Association of Cambodia, told the Post in December that there are 1,000 registered pharmacies in Cambodia and around 1,000 pharmacies operating illegally.

In conjunction with the launch of the task force, the Ministry of Health will invite pharmacy representatives to a forum emphasising the dangers and health risks related to selling fake drugs, Chou Yinsim said.

The World Health Organisation launched a campaign in 2005 to "harness the power of the internet" to reduce the sale of counterfeit drugs, prompted by studies showing their use was on the rise, including one that found 99 of 188 samples of an antimalarial drug were counterfeit.  

The problem of counterfeit medicine - which accounts for 6 to 10 percent of all medicine on the global market, with sales figures estimated at US$35 billion each year - is most acute in the Mekong region of Southeast Asia, according to the WHO release announcing the beginning of the campaign.

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