Cambodia’s anti-economic crime police have seized more than 100,000 small boxes of illicit medicines and made one arrest, after a raid on an apartment in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district.
The bust took place on Tuesday afternoon in the Phnom Penh Thmey commune, with diabetes and weight-loss drugs among those recovered, according to a statement on the National Police website. The chief of police in Phnom Penh Thmey commune, Keo Sothort, told the Post the operation was led by officials from the Interior Ministry and the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
According to the Deputy Director of the Interior Ministry’s anti-economic crime department, Long Sreng, who was involved in the raid, 10 different types of unlicensed medicine were found among the haul.
“There were about 400 cases,” he said.
The arrested man, 40-year-old Te Tokkhoan, was sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday afternoon for processing, after being interrogated by police.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Tob Chhunlong, who also took part in the raid, could not be reached for comment.
According to information posted on the National Police website, the director of legal affairs at the Health Ministry’s drug department, Klang Someth, was unable to confirm whether the drugs were fake until results came back from lab testing.
A recent report on anti-malarials in the Kingdom found that no tested samples were phony, but almost one in three were substandard – usually meaning they contained an insufficient amount of the active ingredient. Such drugs can leave a patient under-treated and when intended to combat the likes of malaria or diabetes, could be fatal.
This latest bust comes less than three months after the ministries of health and interior announced a joint strategy to curb illegal medical practices, including the use of fraudulent health products.
That plan came in the wake of the massive HIV outbreak in Battambang – where tainted injections administered by an unlicensed doctor were largely blamed for infecting hundreds of people.
In the past, the World Health Organization has estimated more than 10 per cent of pharmaceutical drugs in Cambodia are fake, while in a 2012 report, the International Pharmaceutical Organisation found only 1,477 licensed pharmacists in Cambodia, meaning thousands operate without permission.