The Ministry of Health has banned the sale of medicine without a legal permit at supermarkets, mini-marts and baby shops nationwide. It said offenders face strict legal measures, including fines of up to 10 million riel ($2,500).
A letter signed by secretary of state at the Ministry of Health Or Vandine said the ministry had observed that modern and traditional medicines, health supplements and medical equipment were still being sold at supermarkets, mini-marts and baby shops without the ministry’s authorisation.
“From today, in order to ensure the quality, safety and effectiveness of medicines for consumers, and to strengthen the implementation of the Law on Management of Pharmaceuticals and the Law on the Amendment to the Law on Management of Pharmaceuticals, all owners [of such retail outlets] must discontinue the sale of medical products.
“According to the 2007 Law on the Amendment to the Law on Management of Pharmaceuticals, the import, distribution, sale or display of pharmaceuticals and all kinds of cosmetic products in Cambodia shall have a registered number from the Cambodian Ministry of Health.
“In the event of non-compliance, a fine of between five million and 10 million riel shall be imposed on those who distribute or sell unauthorised products,” the letter said.
However, the same letter said that if those business owners wanted to open a pharmacy, they could contact the capital or provincial Department of Health to obtain legal authorisation.
Saing Sophea, a pharmacist at Pharma Product Manufacturing Co Ltd and a former pharmacist at a private pharmacy, told The Post on Wednesday that pharmacies generally received permission from the ministry.
”If people want to buy the correct medicines for their ailments, they should go to a pharmacy, not a supermarket or mini-mart.
“By law, every pharmacist who distributes drugs must be properly registered by the ministry and cannot sell those that are unregistered,” she said.
Sophea said people should only buy medicine from pharmacies that display a licence. “If a pharmacy has a licence and properly qualified pharmacists, it can be trusted up to 95 per cent.
“But we cannot say 100 per cent that pharmacies do not sell counterfeit medicine, because authentic products can be expensive.
“Some outlets accept illegally smuggled counterfeit medicine for resale, which is harmful to people’s health. Moreover, it goes against pharmacists’ ethical standards,” she said.
The Ministry of Health’s Department of Drugs and Food reported that as of June last year, there were 2,516 registered pharmacies, 405 drug import/export companies and branches, and 19 medical manufacturing institutions in Cambodia.