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New rules for drug sales

New rules for drug sales

New regulations to control the sale of medicines are being drafted by the Ministry

of Health along with strict rules for the setting up of pharmacies.

"The ministry is now working actively to deal with these problems," the

vice secretary of state, Dr Dy Narongrith, told the Post.

His department has also sought advice from overseas experts on how to revamp medical

regulations.

He explained how, under the current system, anybody sufficiently qualified can set

up a pharmacy but the law does not state that they have to be on call and very often

their wives, relatives or children are left to recommend and sell medicines.

In 1985, a sub-decree on the sale of medicines was passed by the Council of Ministers

and six years later the Ministry of Health issued another declaration concerning

the setting up of pharmacies and sub-pharmacies.

According to the rules, a pharmacy must be run by a senior pharmacist, while A-type

and B-type pharmacies are respectively required to be managed by an intermediate

level pharmacist and a retired intermediate level physician.

To open a business, applicants must be Cambodian nationals aged at least 25 with

a recognized qualification and three years work experience in Phnom Penh, two years

in the provinces or one year in the south-eastern or mountainous regions.

There are 153 pharmacies and 85 A and B level sub-pharmacies in Phnom Penh together

with scores of authorized retailers.

A campaign is already underway, in cooperation with the city's health service and

local authorities, to monitor the drugs trade.

So far, the reaction of pharmacists has been mixed with a number continually refusing

to following regulations, according to the ministry.

The ministry is also trying to tackle the problems of illegally imported and counterfeit

drugs and to monitor drug advertising on television, radio and in the newspapers.

For Dr Narongrith, some advertising goes well beyond medical ethics.

"It's wrong that one says his drugs are excellent," he explained, citing

just one example.

Most authorized drugs come from Europe while many others come from Vietnam and Thailand

and many of these are counterfeit.

Among the ministry's plans is the setting up of a central drugs warehouse so they

can be labeled and properly checked before being sold to pharmacists.

The responsibility for confiscating counterfeit drugs lies not with the ministry

but with the police. So far, no agreement on future cooperation has been reached.

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