Concerns about substandard and counterfeit drugs are rightly brought to attention by Tong Soprach (“Government must safeguard public health”, January 28), particularly in the week that Interpol announced more seizures and arrests in Cambodia.
Throughout the region, Interpol seized more than 12.2 million packs of fake drugs between July and November last year. However, his letter does not mention the root causes of fake drugs – namely weak rule of law and corruption. If victims of fake drugs and shoddy services cannot claim compensation for their suffering, and court cases against culprits are excessively slow or incapable of delivering justice, then the problem will persist.
Regulations are already being ignored, and adding extra layers of bureaucracy often makes things worse. In many countries, for example, drug inspectors and the drug purchasers for state hospitals are in league with producers of substandard drugs, and this corruption fuels the trade.
The highest standards of medicines and services are found in parts of the world where producers of high-quality medicines and good services are able to protect their trademarks against counterfeiters, and where government does not try to control markets. Putting more power in the hands of a few is no solution to Cambodia’s problems.
International Policy Network
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