Sub-Decree Aims to Better Regulate Pharmacies

Prime Minister Hun Sen has signed a sub-decree to better regulate pharmacies, a business fraught with fake drugs and fake diplomas.

“This sub-decree aims to promote professional conscience the spirit of responsibility, the respect of law in doing professional pharmacy business with honor and dignity for people’s welfare,” the sub-decree reads.

The new sub-decree of the Pharmacists’ Code of Ethics contains 71 articles. They ban distribution of fake drugs and the use of titles not related to the profession.

“In any form, pharmacists shall not commit an act that harms the public health,” Article 8 states. “Pharmacists must participate in anti-cheating activities, especially to avoid producing, distributing and profiting from fake drugs and low-quality, expired or unusable drugs.”

Although there are no reliable figures, the Ministry of Interior recognizes that counterfeit medicine is a significant problem.

Fake drugs are most commonly placebos. Sometimes, they  contain poisonous substances, such as motor oil, and can sicken or even kill people.

Article 56 states that pharmacists who monitor other pharmacies have to be independent and “shall not be permitted to control and inspect their own business, or conjoined-businesses or of blood-related relatives.”

Article 30 states the medicine should only be sold after pharmacists have familiarized themselves with the prescription and always act in the best interest of customers’ health. Drugs should be handed out to needy sick people who cannot pay for them.

Health Minister Mam Bunheng and Heng Bunhiet, the Ministry’s director of essential drugs and foods department, could not be reached for comment.

Mao Dareth, deputy director of the Pharmacist Association of Cambodia, which counts more than 600 professional members, welcomed the Pharmacists’ Code of Ethics’ new sub-decrees, saying that it drew from other countries’ experiences.

“Basically, it will help pharmacists from any wrongdoing in their profession,” Mr. Dareth said. Phnom Penh, he said, has more than 600 pharmacies.

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