Unlicensed Pharmacies Get Deadline

Forty-one unlicensed pharmacies in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district have been given one month to obtain their necessary permits from City Hall or they will be shuttered, officials said Wednesday.

District Governor Sam Hok said authorities have identified 41 pharmacies—39 in Choam Chao commune and two in Kakab commune —operating without a license and have given the businesses until March 4 to comply with the law.

“All pharmacist have to ask permission from the health department first in order to run their pharmacy. If not, they are going to be closed,” he said Wednesday. Sam Hok said the shops have one month because the health department’s plan requires that authorities first approach the businesses and educate them on the law.

He said officials hosted an informational meeting Feb 4 about the permits that was attended by 12 of the 41 pharmacies, prompting auth-orities to schedule another in the near future. The meeting also touched on how pharmacies must avoid selling counterfeit drugs and practice good medicine, he said.

Ouch Sam, deputy director of the municipal health department, said counterfeit drugs remain a serious concern related to unregulated pharmacies.

“Many people die in Asia due to fake medicine, so the government has made a strict plan to eliminate unlicensed pharmacies,” he said, adding the Health Ministry frequently advises and informs pharmacies about the need for a license, usually to no avail.

Ouch Sam said it is estimated 100 unlicensed pharmacies selling fake drugs could be operating in Phnom Penh at any one time.

Although praising the move, one health official with an international organization doubted the effectiveness of the government’s intent. The official, who declined to be named so as to not jeopardize his relationship with the Ministry of Health, said that when pharmacies are closed they typically reopen about one week later.

“After that, it’s business as usual,” the health professional said, adding that the Health Ministry does not “have the manpower to do it.”



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