Privately owned pharmaceutical companies have asked the Ministry of Health to simplify the process of importing and exporting pharmaceutical products to ensure sustainability and further promote the industry in the Kingdom.

Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng on Tuesday led a working group to a second joint meeting with nearly 50 members of the private healthcare sector to determine the challenges faced by pharmaceutical companies.

The meeting tackled issues such as the application process to obtain pharmaceutical drugs trade licences, import tariff rates, importing raw materials for manufacturing medicines, and drug registration, said ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine.

“We talked about some of the issues in the industry, particularly those concerning the pharmaceutical drugs trade, which were brought up by the private sector. The issues had been discussed since the first joint meeting to make business easier for privately owned pharmaceutical companies and still meet the government’s policy objectives.

“We have resolved the issues and come to an understanding with the private sector regarding procedures that align with the government’s Law on the Management of Pharmaceuticals,” Vandine said.

Bun Heng acknowledged the positive results from the meeting and also urged the private sector to actively take part in the proper implementation of the law.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng on Thursday said the private sector had requested a faster import-export process for pharmaceutical products – without interruption or delays.

“Of course, we have to respect the law, but we believe it is possible to advance the trading process while acting in accordance with it.

“The process had been delayed numerous times . . . sometimes because of officials and other times due to the private companies themselves. So both parties have to commit to being more efficient,” Heng said.

He also urged private and public institutions to increase their use of locally produced medicines to enrich the Kingdom’s pharmaceutical sector.

Cambodia, he said, has 10 local pharmaceutical manufacturing companies.

The ministry’s revised prakas on pharmaceutical trading procedures, dated November 3, 2008, said medicines approved for import and intended for retail in Cambodia must contain the registration numbers it grants.

Imported medicines must be valid for use for at least 18 months upon arrival.

The prakas also states that pharmaceuticals, preventive medicines such as vaccines, and reactive medicines with less than 18 months before expiry are only valid for use for at least two-thirds of duration on arrival in Cambodia.