The illegal influx of poor quality medicine must be stopped to prevent its distribution to the rural poor, NGO members and government officials said Thursday. In a four-hour forum on health and medicine, about 50 participants said unlicensed pharmacies must be shut down to stop the influx of expired, fake or illegal drugs.
Better law enforcement, inspection practices and treatment centers would all improve Cambodia’s poor health care system, participants said in discussions.
Ung Phyrun, secretary of state for the Health Ministry, said the government is cracking down on illegal drug use and distribution. Uk Bunsan, deputy director of administrative commission in Kandal province, said licensing all pharmacies and inspecting their operations would help.
Ignorance leads to bad medicine in the rural provinces as well as Phnom Penh, participants said. It can be cheaper to go to a neighborhood pharmacy rather than get a prescription, one participant said.
Yin Yann, director of the Pharmacy Association, said that if law enforcement and medicine inspection stay as ineffective as they are at present, a fix would take 20 years.
In addition to selling bad medicine, some pharmacies distribute illegal amphetamines, said Lour Ramin, deputy director-general of the National Anti-Drug Authority.
While police have made a few smaller scale busts of illegal drugs in the past, large-scale seizures “have never succeeded,” Yin Yann said. “Now our inspection system on medicine is only on paper. There is no enforcement.”