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TV spots to target counterfeit drugs

A CAMPAIGN warning the public about counterfeit drugs is set to begin airing on state television channel TVK on Thursday, officials have said, in a bid to combat the fake products flooding the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

The “Pharmacide” announcements, developed last year by the Pharmacopeia Drug Quality and Information Programme, a health-care monitoring programme for developing countries supported by USAID, is to be broadcast in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam as part of a regional initiative to increase public awareness about the proliferation of counterfeit and poor quality medicines.

“If customers are aware which medicines are fake, then we hope that they will buy their medicines only from licensed pharmacies,” Yim Yann, president of the Pharmacists’ Association of Cambodia, says in one of the television spots.

Researchers have found that counterfeit and poor-quality medicines are bolstering the drug resistance of malarial parasites, and in other cases have triggered adverse reactions, including protracted illness and death of patients.

In 2008, police across Southeast Asia made a series of arrests and seized fake drugs worth millions of dollars in Operation Storm, supported by Interpol, the World Health Organisation and the World Customs Organisation.

Nearly 200 raids were carried out, resulting in 27 arrests and the seizure of more than 16 million pills with an estimated value of US$6.6 million.

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