DISTRICT authorities are set to meet with owners of unlicenced pharmacies in Phnom Penh, saying their businesses will face closure if they do not register with the Ministry of Health.
In January the ministry gave municipal and provincial health officials a February deadline to launch a crackdown on unlicenced premises.
According to Sok Sokun, director of the Phnom Penh Health Department, Governor Kep Chuktema on Thursday authorised local officials to meet the owners of illegal dispensaries to demand that they apply for legitimate licences or face closure.
The date and time of the meeting is yet to be determined, officials said.
“In Phnom Penh, there are 528 licenced pharmacies and 116 illegal ones,” Sok Sokun said. “We have informed them [of the deadline], but they have not listened. This is the last time we will take these measures.”
Complicating matters, however, is the fact that many owners operating illegal pharmacies are actually also running licenced medical clinics. “We have [licenced] them to operate clinics, but they are not allowed to open pharmacies,” he said.
“When we don’t know that they sell drugs, it is hard for us to control drugs or [monitor] expired drugs.”
Doctors who run clinics are only permitted to prescribe drugs to patients, who can then go to licenced pharmacies with the prescription, he said.
The move to register pharmacies has spread to the provinces as well. Or Vanthen, the director at Kampong Speu’s Health Department, said he met with provincial officials Thursday to discuss appropriate measures to register or shut down the six unlicenced pharmacies in the area.
“We will not close them immediately, we will give them several days to apply for licences,” he said.