Nearly 2 tons of counterfeit medicine that was seized at the Thai border in 2011 was incinerated by Interior Ministry police in a formal ceremony in Phnom Penh Monday.
The 54 sacks of medicine weighing 1,967 kg were confiscated in a single haul in Banteay Meanchey on December 25, 2011, according to Meach Sophana, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Interior and chairman of the government’s interministerial Counter Counterfeit Committee. He said a suspect had tried to bring the medicine into Cambodia from Thailand without the necessary licenses.
“This medicine would have been worth millions if it had been distributed,” he said.
Upon seizure, the counterfeit drugs were sent to the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court as evidence and remained there for nearly four years, Mr. Sophana said. Although the investigation into the case is still ongoing, and the suspect is still at large, the government had finally decided to destroy the drugs.
“This evidence can be extremely hazardous for society and seriously impact people’s health; therefore, the counterfeit drug committee has cooperated with the Ministry of Justice and the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court to take the 54 sacks and burn them,” he added.
French Ambassador Jean Claude Poimboeuf symbolically added 5 kg of counterfeit drugs seized by police earlier this year to be burned in the ceremony. Nicolas Baudoin, spokesman for the French Embassy, said that the French government had been helping train Cambodian police to deal with counterfeit drugs since 2011.
“Today is not only about getting rid of [counterfeit medicine] but we need to educate people to understand about effective medicine,” said Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana, who is also the deputy head of the Counter Counterfeit Committee.
(Additional reporting by Peter Ford)