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Pharmaceutical Importer Raided Over Fake, Expired Medicine

Confiscated counterfeit medicine. (Courtesy of Counter Counterfeit Committee of Interior Ministry's Facebook page)

Recently, authorities have arrested 10 people and confiscated more than 80 tons of fake products in Phnom Penh, including fake beer and bottled water.

Cambodian authorities briefly detained a man last week after discovering more than 23 types of expired and fake medicine at his pharmaceutical import company in Phnom Penh, according to a statement from the National Police’s Counter Counterfeit Committee.

According to a press release, on August 16, the Counter Counterfeit Committee’s special operation forces and police, working alongside court prosecutors, raided the premises of the Reaksmey Sour pharmaceutical company in a house in Sen Sok district and detained company representative Hor Chhun with more than 500 boxes of fake medicine.

“In coordination with representatives of the prosecutors of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, we have found 23 kinds of medicine in 500 boxes, totaling 1,329,620 tablets, 69,105 packages and 12 kinds of expired medicine,” said the Counter Counterfeit Committee statement.

The statement added: “There were suspicions that the facility was packaging fake medicine and changing medicine expiry dates, stockpiling and distributing counterfeit and expired medicine, distributing medicine without legal permission and operating a company without complying with the law.”

Khan Lyna, deputy chief of the Counter Counterfeit Committee, confirmed on Monday that the man detained for questioning was the owner of Reaksmey Sour. However, he said he did not know the types of drugs that had been confiscated or how they might affect people’s health.

“Stay tuned for the expert to finalize first, then we will know when we get results,” he said. “We just detained the company’s owner to interrogate him. The case is in the hands of the court, and the court will decide.”

Hor Chhun’s father, Chea Hor, answered a listed telephone number for the company on Tuesday. He said his son had only been briefly detained, and claimed, contrary to the government statement, that only two types of medicine were confiscated from Reaksmey Sour. He said all the medicines seized had been given back to the company already.

“They have not been seized. They took only two types of medicine, aspirin and ‘bigen,’ and they gave them back. They are [now] in the car.”

He declined to comment further or discuss whether the seized products had actually been shoddy, saying he knew little about the company’s operations.

In 2017, authorities set fire to hundreds of tons of counterfeit products confiscated in Phnom Penh and Kampong Speu, including drugs, cosmetics, beverages, and food.

In the first three months of this year, authorities arrested 10 people and confiscated more than 80 tons of fake products in Phnom Penh, including fake beer and bottled water.

The head of the Counter Counterfeit Committee, Meach Sophanna, said recently that there had been an increase in the circulation of fake products due to strong economic growth in Cambodia and rising market demand.

However, San Chhay, a social analyst, told VOA Khmer earlier this month that a more important factor in the proliferation of counterfeit goods was a lack of regulations and consistent law enforcement. He said the government needed to crack down on counterfeit products on a broader scale to have a real impact.