Phnom Penh authorities have given pharmacy owners until the end of the month to complete their license forms or face closure, officials said yesterday, adding that more than 100 pharmacies are currently operating without licenses.
Deputy governor Mann Chhoeun said that governor Kep Chuktema had on Thursday ordered all district governors to review the status of all pharmacies in their district, adding that City Hall has long urged pharmacists to complete required forms before starting a pharmacy but many had failed to do so.
“It is time that they have to respect the rule of law and we have to develop our city,” he said.
Mr Chhoeun said there were 644 pharmacies in the capital, 116 of which had not completed the required paperwork.
Ly Srey Vina, an SRP lawmaker who also owns a medical clinic in Phnom Penh, welcomed the municipality’s initiative to regulate the pharmacies but added corruption was the main obstacle to closing down unlicensed medicine outlets.
According to World Health Organization officials some 2.5 percent of all medicine sold in Cambodia is counterfeit or substandard and a major challenge for the government is to inspect the thousands of unlawful medicine outlets across the country.
William Mfuko, WHO technical officer for essential medicines, said he was unfamiliar with the new initiative but said similar announcements had been made in the past without much consequence.
“I need to see this decision…how serious are they this time and how they are going to enforce it,” he said.
Mr Mfuko said the challenge lay in upgrading the unlicensed pharmacies through training, quality control and regulation rather than in cracking down, which was unlikely to work as high demand for medicine was creating the unlicensed shops.
“It is difficult to close outlets that have sprung out of demand,” he said, “These shops are mushrooms, you cut them down and they will open somewhere else.”