Pharma Product Manufacturing Co Ltd (PPM) is a local producer of pharmaceutical products launched in 1996. In its nearly 23 years of operation, the company has played a big role in the Kingdom’s pharmaceutical industry, both socially and economically.

PPM president Doctor Hay Ly Eang was interviewed by The Post’s Cheng Sokhorng. They spoke about the pharmaceutical product experience, the company’s market in the Kingdom as well as how the pharmaceutical industry will contribute to Cambodia’s economic development going forward.

When was PPM established?

We were founded during the Sangkum Reastr Niyum era between 1953-1970. PPM was officially registered in the pharmaceutical market in 1996.

PPM was the first company in Cambodia to be established by a pharmaceutical doctor, Kok Sok Kim. He created a pain-killing medicine, which he called Kinal, which was the first medicine created in the Kingdom following independence from France. Kinal was created four years before the famous French painkiller Doliprane.

We had approximately 27 pharmaceutical manufacturers during the Sangkum Reastr Niyum era, but all were destroyed during the Pol Pot regime.

In 1983, we started to distribute pharmaceutical products again because of medicine shortages. First, we could only supply through imports, but they were limited and not able to be distributed as freely as they are today. We could only contribute as a charity.

How is PPM’s progress currently in the Kingdom’s market?

The demand for medicine in Cambodia keeps increasing, with our manufacturers able to produce 100 types of medicine for pharmaceutical market needs. As demand increases year to year, our pharmaceutical production line is also growing. We started with 30 staff and now have 400 staff in our manufacturing facilities.

What do you think about popular consumption of local pharmaceutical products in the Kingdom?

Our pharmaceutical products are recognised for quality, effectiveness and safety, to the point where we are able to supply international markets such as Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Francophone African countries. All our pharmaceutical products are checked from the beginning of production lines until they are ready for consumption.

We also follow up and perform quality control and inspect efficacy at production lines and markets. Every pharmaceutical product has to have a licence and proper inspection by the Ministry of Health before being released into the market. Quality and efficacy is why our products reach international markets.

What do you think about counterfeit medicine trafficking in the Kingdom’s market?

Counterfeit medicine trafficking and the flood of medicine imports are challenges and risks for the consumer. There are thousands of medicines on the market and we do not know their background and source. Who is checking the quality, efficacy and safety? Do they have proper licences? All these are concerns and risks for the consumer. It is not only that, we also see advertisements and broadcasts through Facebook and radio about the abilities of medicines to treat certain illnesses – even cancer.

This is immoral and is considered murder when they kill these patients. On behalf of pharmaceutical producers, the free flow of counterfeit products and medicines will impact our market, production and reputation, damaging consumer trust in our medicine.

What measures should the government and Ministry of Health take to stop counterfeit medicine?

In my opinion, the Ministry of Health should take serious action and inspect all pharmaceutical products in the market, control all medicine imports and enforce compliance to the law to ensure the quality, efficacy and the safety of medicine. Enforcing proper tax payments and licences will ensure fair competiveness in the market for the local pharmaceutical producer.

What is the potential of the pharmaceutical sector? And how much investment has PPM seen so far?

At present, our investments stand at $20 million. The pharmaceutical industry presents good potential for investors, as we have approximately six or seven companies. But in order to attract investors to the industry, the Ministry of Health needs to assume its responsibilities and correctly manage the pharmaceutical market.

More investors will add value to our products, improving techniques and job opportunities for our people through high profits and economic growth.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.