The government has prohibited the distribution and sale of rabies vaccines Abhayrab and Indirab, that are not registered with the Ministry of Health.
In a statement issued on Monday, the ministry warned of “legal punishments” against “pharmacies or individuals that sell or distribute the [unlicensed] vaccines”.
Abhayrab and Indirab – which are manufactured by Indian Immunologicals and Bharat Biotech, respectively – are officially registered with the government, thus the use and distribution of the vaccines are generally allowed in Cambodia.
However, the authorities found some unregistered products of the same brands had been sold through Facebook account “Pharmacy Online Cambodia” and distributed at some markets, the ministry said, without confirming the genuineness of the vaccines.
“Vaccine is a medical product which requires proper storage and distribution to maintain its quality and effectiveness. Those being sold in the market without the source, [legitimate] registration and inspection, as well as authorisation from the Ministry of Health, could be adulterated products and harmful to the patients’ health,” the directive read.
The ministry ordered its municipal and provincial branches to collect and destroy all the unregistered vaccines and to instruct all private health service providers and pharmacies to immediately stop using, selling and distributing the products.
“Those who defy the ministry’s directive ought to be punished according to law,” the ministry said.
A Department of Drugs and Food official who wished not to be identified told The Post on Wednesday that the ministry was unable to identify the source of the unregistered vaccines and where the products were imported from.
“It’s because they are sold online, [so it is hard to track where they came from]. It’s essential that people stop buying medicines through the internet . . . they should acquire them from legitimate pharmacies,” he said.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine declined to comment on grounds that she was busy in a meeting.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that one in 10 medical products in low- and middle-income countries is substandard or fake.
The substandard or fake products, the WHO said, often failed to treat the diseases for which they were intended, and could cause serious harm to patients. In some cases, patients were killed by using substandard or fake medical products.
A Counter-Counterfeit Committee report said 106 types of fake medicines weighing 400g were confiscated last year.