Police in Siem Reap province yesterday shuttered an unlicensed medical clinic they say was using more than 100 unregistered medicines, though the clinic’s owner insisted the raid was in response to rival clinics complaining about their prices being undercut by his charitable operation.
According to police, the Siem Reap branch of the Virtuous Doctor Association, which operates nine other branches around the country, was closed on Tuesday after an inspection revealed its lack of a licence and the illegal medication.
“Ouch Vuthy is a doctor possessing a military medical certificate, and his association’s headquarters in Phnom Penh is recognised by the Ministry of Interior,” said Sean Sen, director of Siem Reap’s anti-economic crime office.
“But his [Siem Reap] branch has not been registered at the health department and the medicines have not been registered, so this case must be forwarded to the court”.
But Vuthy, who says his other branches have been running without problems, claims Siem Reap police are acting on behalf of rival clinics.
“I think the authorities launched the operation based on other clinics’ complaints, because they do not get as many patients as us,” he said.
Sen rejected the allegation yesterday and said police would be investigating Virtuous Doctor’s other clinics.
Phnom Penh-based Vuthy admits he has fallen foul of a 2014 change in the law which requires medical clinics to register with the Department of Health, but says he failed to register the Siem Reap clinic only because he could not find a local doctor to work there.
“I organised the document requesting a license,” he said. “But the Department of Health said anyone named as responsible for the clinic must live in Siem Reap.”
Police said they seized 103 types of Chinese-branded medicine that had not been properly registered, but Vuthy again denied the charge.
“There are three sources we buy the medicine from,” he said. “Registered drugs from the company, drugs given to us by charitable donors, and others purchased from a clinic in Olympic market in Phnom Penh.”
According to Health Department vice president Earm Bun Leoun, Vuthy’s Phnom Penh office got Ministry of Interior clearance in 2006, but was not given permission to open branches, and was later warned of the need to register his Siem Reap practice.
“The Department of Health approached the clinic and warned it to apply for permission, but he did not follow the advice,” he said.