St­ing nets over $2 mil­lion in bo­gus phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals

The Myanmar Times - - News - HTOO THANT thanhtoo@mm­times.com

MYAN­MAR’S deputy home af­fairs min­is­ter said yes­ter­day that au­thor­i­ties have in re­cent weeks seized K2.8 bil­lion (US$2.3 mil­lion) worth of coun­ter­feit drugs, ex­pired medicines and re­lated pro­duc­tion ma­te­ri­als.

Gen­eral Aung Soe said the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs raided 11 phar­macy and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals ware­house sites from Au­gust 31 to Septem­ber 12, af­ter surveilling lo­ca­tions that had been high­lighted in a re­port from the Min­istry of In­dus­try. The st­ing was car­ried out at places in­clud­ing stalls in Bo­gyoke and Shwe Pyae Sone mar­kets in the com­mer­cial cap­i­tal, net­ting 44 dif­fer­ent types of coun­ter­feit phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

“Coun­ter­feit drugs, ex­pired medicines, dif­fer­ent kinds of fake BPI stamp doc­u­ments, chem­i­cal liq­uids which are used for pro­duc­ing coun­ter­feit drugs, med­i­cal pouch-seal­ing ma­chines used for pack­ing medicine and pill count­ing ma­chines” were among the goods seized, the deputy min­is­ter said at a press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day at the Min­istry of In­dus­try in Nay Pyi Taw. A printer used to stamp fake trade­mark la­bels was also seized, he added.

BPI, or Burma Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal In­dus­try, was a state-run drug maker re­named Myan­mar Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Fac­tory in 1988. It is un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the Min­istry of In­dus­try.

Of­fi­cials yes­ter­day de­scribed two du­plic­i­tous tech­niques used by the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals scam­mers. Coun­ter­feit drugs pro­duced at fac­to­ries in Man­dalay and Yan­gon re­gions, as well as Chi­nese-made medicines, were bot­tled with bo­gus BPI la­belling, and le­git­i­mate but ex­pired BPI drugs were found to have had their la­bels reprinted with dates that in­di­cated they had not yet ex­pired.

Twelve men and two women have been de­tained and a case has been opened un­der sec­tion 18 of the 1992 Na­tional Drug Law, the deputy min­is­ter said. Charges un­der sec­tion 18 carry with them a fine of K50,000 to K500,000, a max­i­mum seven years in prison or both, ac­cord­ing to Dr U Oakka of the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FDA).

“These peo­ple are dis­tribut­ing and sell­ing im­i­ta­tion medicines and if the pub­lic buys and uses them, sig­nif­i­cant harm can oc­cur. We will take ac­tion against all the rel­e­vant peo­ple in this case,” Gen Aung Soe said.

Union In­dus­try Min­is­ter U Khin Maung Cho said given the pub­lic health risks posed, pro­duc­tion and sale of coun­ter­feit phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals would not be tol­er­ated.

“The im­i­ta­tion medicine busi­ness can­not be for­given and it can cause peo­ple trou­ble. So we are an­nounc­ing [the con­se­quences of coun­ter­feit­ing] clearly to­day,” U Khin Maung Cho said. – Trans­la­tion by San Layy and Khine Thazin Han

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