Officials from the Ministry of Health and the Phnom Penh municipality are vowing to crack down on unlicensed pharmacies and smugglers of prescription drugs.
Minister of Health Hong Sun Huot said about 3,000 different drug products have legal import certificates, but many other items are smuggled over the borders. Oftentimes those products’ expiration dates have passed.
The ministry and the municipality are planning to check pharmacies on a monthly basis to ensure only quality drugs are being sold.
“Imported drugs have to be tested at the ministry before they are distributed wholesale,” Hong Sun Huot said. “If they are not tested, they are illegal.”
Chheng Eang Tech, commercial director of Pharmaproduct Manufacturing, a Cambodian-French joint venture, said the influx of smuggled prescription drugs makes it especially difficult for local products to attract customers.
One company is proudly announcing its legal entry into the Cambodian medicine market. More than a hundred government officials, doctors and pharmacy operators attended a reception held by Healol Pharmaceuticals, a Malaysian medical import-export company that plans to ship a variety of drugs from Malaysia, Thailand, India and other countries to Cambodia.
Indian medicines in particular are relatively rare on Cambodian shelves. “Most Cambodian people believe in French medicine more than the others,” Chheng Eang Tech said.