Three Tons of Illicit Medicine Seized in Raid

Police seized more than three tons of illicit medicine in a raid on a private residence in Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district on Wednesday.

Acting on a complaint from DKSH—a Swiss-based company that has the exclusive right to distribute more than 11,000 pharmaceutical products in the country—economic police found 3,545 kg of drugs that had not been screened by the Ministry of Health.

“We seized 45 different products with a total weight of 3,545 kg,” said Long Sreng, chief of the Interior Ministry’s economic police unit.

“The suspect, Tem Vuthy, has been charged with possessing medicines illegally and was sent to court,” he said, adding that the products were imported from Thailand and had evaded tax.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Top Chhunlong declined to comment.

According to Mr. Sreng and Nicolas Chabanier, general manager of health care at DKSH, all medicinal products coming into Cambodia must be registered with the Ministry of Health—at a cost of $2,500 per product—where a certification sticker bearing a serial number and small DKSH logo is affixed.

As DKSH is the exclusive distributor for pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, it is therefore simple to discern which products are illegitimately imported, Mr. Chabanier said.

“We work with the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world,” he said. “They have their people here and everywhere else.”

At the Tuol Svay Prey II commune home of Mr. Vuthy on Thursday, his daughter, a 22-year-old student who would not reveal her name, said that two unknown foreigners had accompanied police in the raid.

“An Australian man and one other Westerner came with the police,” she said. “First, they said they were looking for fake medicine from France but when they did not find it, they seized the medicine that we did not pay tax for.”

Mr. Sreng, the economic police chief, said that a foreigner named Mr. Paul had filed the complaint and also accompanied police on the raid, but declined to comment further.

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