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Fake medicines production an international problem

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Health workers preparing to destroy fake medicines seized in Beijing in 2013. AFP

Fake medicines production an international problem

Prime Minister Hun Sen has expressed his concern about the abundance of fake and substandard medicines in the market, calling them a danger to public health and social safety.

Presiding over the regional conference on Fight against fake and substandard medicines held yesterday and today at Sofitel Hotel in Phnom Penh, he said the fake medicines are widespread and many are sold online. This, he said, made it difficult for the authorities to control.

The conference was attended by some 450 representatives from relevant ministries, government institutions, officials from Phnom Penh and the provinces, national and international guests and the private sector.

Hun Sen said: “The widespread use of fake and substandard medicines might be caused by the high price of the original medicines, an ineffective production mechanism, and the way they are sold in markets.

“There should be more training for health officials to monitor and inspect the quality of the medicines and more public awareness. All these elements combined give criminals an opportunity to exploit society and seriously threaten the well-being and life of the people.”

He said no country can successfully crack down on fake and substandard medicines on its own. The fight requires good and close cooperation with neighbouring countries, an efficient exchange of information and strict law enforcement.

The head of a committee to tackle fake products at the Ministry of Interior, Meach Sophanna, said only a joint strategy on techniques and legislation can stop the problem.

“This regional international conference is a special forum for delegates and representatives of the health, justice and security departments in the Mekong region.

“Our partner institutions, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), the international police, and Unicef will do everything they can to stop the production,” he said.

During the opening ceremony of the conference, he said the committee could not estimate the amount of fake medicines circulating in Cambodia.

WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a video clip played at the conference that his organisation received all sorts of falsified and substandard products every day and that no region or country was without such products.

“In low- and middle-income countries, more than 10 per cent of the medicines fail to cure the disease they are supposed to treat."

“At best, substandard and falsified medicines do nothing else but prolong sickness and waste money. At worse, they kill and can be seriously harmful."

“Antibiotics are those most reported to WHO. This deceitful industry damages our health system and deprives people of their right to good health,” he said.

He said in order to protect the people from [bad] products, countries need to share information and work together to prevent and detect such threats and respond to them. “We need to stop the supply,” he concluded.

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