Online drug sales have increased significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic, prompting concerns about the sale of substandard and falsified medicines (SFMs), the Ministry of Health said.
The concerns were raised during a two-day Asia-Europe forum on combating SFMs, which Cambodia hosted via video conference from September 29-30.
The ministry said the around 300 forum participants decided to make key recommendations for inclusion in the 13th Asia-Europe Summit, which Cambodia is hosting next year.
Covid-19 made it difficult to purchase essential drugs due to supply chain difficulties, leading to the emergence of SFMs around the world, it said.
“All countries should recognise that SFMs are a public health issue. All countries should recognise the urgent need to protect citizens from SFMs,” it said.
Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine urged governments to take action.
“Countries should be committed to ensuring the supply of safe, effective, high-quality and affordable medicines, vaccines and other essential medicines to ensure the safety and health of the people,” she said.
She stressed that all countries should share technical information and experiences to curb the trafficking of SFMs.
Falsified medicine refers to medicines containing improper ingredients or an insufficient amount of active substances inconsistent with the formula stated on the label, according to the Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee.
Citing a 2016 Interpol report, Eurocham Healthcare Committee in Cambodia vice-chairman Jean-Gaetan Guillemaud said the number of deaths from counterfeit medicines worldwide that year was as high as one million.
Women and children are deemed to be the most vulnerable to counterfeit drugs and a targeted demographic.