Government talks tough on counterfeit drugs

Government talks tough on counterfeit drugs

The government says that it is increasing its efforts to clamp down against counterfeit drugs in Cambodia.

Speaking at a Pharmaceutical and Medical Expo yesterday in Phnom Penh, Nov Phalla, deputy director at the Department of Drugs and Food at the Ministry of Health said the ministry will shut down all pharmacies selling counterfeit drugs and take legal action against the owners.

“The law states that all drug products must be registered with ministry of health to allow ministry of health specialists to check the quality,” she said.

Phalla said the government would conduct inspections at markets and has issued a letter to pharmacies telling them that they must register imported drugs with the ministry or face consequences.

“We will take action on the drug stores that are not registering their product in the ministry. The purpose of this punishment is to ensure that people buy the right drugs to consume. If we don’t abolish those illegal pharmaceutical stores, it will affect the people.”

Heng Vicheth, managing director at Meet Heng, a local company that imports drugs from Denmark, Switzerland, India, Bagladesh and China, said he that there had been improvements made in the past five years.

“I think now there is a small amount of fake medicine trafficking in Cambodia because the MOH put in a strong effort to abolish them,” Vicheth said.

Cambodia seized more than 100,000 boxes of counterfeit medicines during a raid in April.

Nearly 400 cases of 10 different types of unlicensed pharmaceuticals, including diabetes and weight-loss drugs, were recovered.
  
A 2012 report from the International Pharmaceutical Organisation said that only about 1,500 pharmacists are licensed in Cambodia, leaving many thousands to operate illegally. 

Thong Meng Long, representative from the Cambodia Doctor Association said that they have been offering regular trainings on ethics and patient care to doctors, which he said helps Cambodians increase their trust in local healthcare services.

“We hope that sooner or later [Cambodian people] will look to medical care in Cambodia,” Dr Thong Meng Long said.

According to a press release issued by VEAS Cambodia, the medical healthcare service market is worth up to $1 billion dollars in 2015, including the pharmaceutical market worth $210 million.

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