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Ministry bans buying, selling of antibiotics without prescription

A pharmacist sorts antibiotics at a pharmacy yesterday in Phnom Penh.
A pharmacist sorts antibiotics at a pharmacy yesterday in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Ministry bans buying, selling of antibiotics without prescription

A Ministry of Health official yesterday said the ministry has banned the buying and selling of antibiotics without a prescription in an effort to curb the overuse that has led to an alarming level of antibiotic resistance in the Kingdom.

Ly Sovann, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said that the ministry had issued a letter on the ban, but he couldn’t provide a copy of the letter or recall the date the order was issued. He also didn’t say what enforcement measures the ministry was taking to implement the ban.

“Currently, the MoH [the Ministry of Health] bans using antibiotics without a prescription,” he said.

The ban is meant to counter the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, which leads to resistance and limits the drugs that are able to treat infectious diseases.

One Phnom Penh pharmacist, who declined to provide her name, said yesterday that she had received the ministry’s letter, which also had information about training sessions on antibiotic misuse.

The owner added that she now required her clients to show a doctor’s prescription for antibiotics – unless they appeared to be seriously ill, she said.

However, three other pharmacies visited yesterday were openly selling various antibiotics over the counter. Saing Sengkhy, owner of Lika Pharmacy, said he was continuing to sell antibiotics as usual since he hadn’t received any notification from the ministry informing him of any changes.

“The culture of Cambodian people . . . when they get sick is going to the pharmacy, not going to the doctor,” he said.

The issue of antimicrobial resistance extends to the Animal Kingdom as well, according to Tum Sothyra, director of the National Animal Health and Production Research Institute.

Speaking after an “Antibiotic Awareness Week” event yesterday, Sothyra said that the Law on Animal Health banned over-the-counter antibiotic sales for livestock, but “in real situations, people can get it everywhere”.

He added that the General Directorate of Animal Health and Production was developing a sub-decree and prakas to strengthen enforcement of the law.

Meanwhile, Sovann said the Health Ministry is piloting a programme to examine microbial resistance in several hospitals throughout the country.

“The goal is to monitor antibiotics resistance and best use of antibiotics for the patients,” he said.

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