Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said the government will crack down on counterfeit medication, noting they pose a threat to people’s health and that online sales have been on the rise.
Speaking during a regional conference on “Combatting Falsified and Substandard Medicine” in Phnom Penh yesterday, Mr Hun Sen said the sale of counterfeit medication is on the rise and that online markets are unregulated, making it difficult to control the substances.
“Falsified medicine sold online looks good, but the quality is not, and it will affect people’s health,” he said. “People must be educated so they know that.”
Mr Hun Sen said that in order to address the problem, he has a plan to take the issue to the international community during the upcoming Asean meeting in Thailand later this month.“I proposed this issue to the French ambassador in Cambodia and the chairman of the board of anti-falsified medicine research institute to consider the topic to be discussed during the upcoming [Asean summit] and the next Asia-Europe Meeting in 2020 in Cambodia,” he said.
He noted that in order to effectively crack down on falsified medication, there must be cooperation between relevant institutions.
“Without cooperation from relevant institutes, the crackdown on falsified medication will not be effective,” Mr Hun Sen said. “All countries must cooperate in order to combat it.”
Mr Hun Sen said offenders must be punished and that each country should establish a team of experts to inform the public of the dangers of counterfeit medication.
He said that authorities must cooperate in order to locate fraudulent and counterfeit drugs, while also developing exchange programmes to investigate supply chains, distribution companies and identify criminals.
Mr Hun Sen noted that cooperation between state and private institutions is crucial in order to prevent the circulation of counterfeit medication.
Officials from France, China and Mekong region countries are participating in the two-day conference in Phnom Penh. About 450 people from various government institutions and the private sector are attending the conference.
The conference focuses on preventing the distribution of poor quality medication by establishing a strategy between countries in the region and regulations to punish serious offences.
Jean-Gaetan Guillemaud, chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce, said that counterfeit medication poses a threat to the health of consumers.
“Counterfeit drugs are responsible for the death of over a million people every year,” Mr Guillemaud said. “This issue affects all countries.”
In August, the Interior Ministry reported that raids this year have yielded at least ten arrests and hundreds of tonnes of counterfeit products across the capital.
Meach Sophana, head of the Counter Counterfeit Committee, said the conference has been beneficial to those who are cooperating together to combat the distribution of counterfeit medication.
“The lack of control at the border and the lack of cooperation between relevant institutions are contributing to the trafficking and production of fake medication,” Mr Sophana said. “It is a big concern at this moment.”
Health Minister Mam Bunheng said the Health Ministry will focus its efforts to combat counterfeit medication online.
“Fake medication is popular online – it is sold online without [quality control],” Mr Bunheng said. “It’s making it hard for us to control, but the ministry is trying to inform people about the dangers of fake medication.”