Pharmaceutical branding changed after counterfeits
State-owned Myanmar Pharmaceutical Factory is swapping the packaging on its BPI-brand pharmaceutical products after a rash of fakes in the local markets.
THE state-owned Myanmar Pharmaceutical Factory (MPF) has announced that it is changing the packaging on its BPI-brand pharmaceutical products in a bid to combat an influx of counterfeit products into the local market.
The decision follows the seizure of about K2.8 billion (US$2.1 million) worth of phony products bearing the BPI brand by the Ministry of Home Affairs in August and September.
The deputy manager of an MPF factory in Insein township, U Aung Zaw, said 19 types of fake BPI medicine, mostly pills, were uncovered.
“A new BPI logo is being printed on products manufactured from October onward. A hologram seal will be placed on old products currently in the market,” said U Ko Ko Aung, general manager at the MPF.
BPI products currently make up around 10 percent of the local pharmaceuticals market. BPI, or Burma Pharmaceutical Industry, was a staterun drug maker renamed Myanmar Pharmaceutical Factory in 1988.
“These fake drugs threaten the BPI brand name. We are trying to safeguard the reputation of our product but it will take some time to stamp out counterfeit products from the market,” U Ko Ko Aung said.
“There is no certainty as to where these drugs come from or how they are made. The counterfeiters only serve their own interests. I think that there are health risks in using these substandard and fake products,” he added.
U Ko Ko Aung said market surveillance teams, made up of MPF staff, will perform checks of BPIbranded pharmaceutical products for sale in stores.
“The team will carry out checks in the market each month. If fake, unregistered or overpriced drugs are found, they will inform our head office, which will take action accordingly,” he said.
According to Dr Oakkar Phyo, assistant director at the Department of Food and Drug Administration, there is no guarantee of the safety, effectiveness, or quality of unregistered or counterfeit drugs.
“To control the proliferation of counterfeit drugs, there needs to be a commitment from the government, collaboration between departments, strong networks and resources, as well as skilful people,” he said.
He added that the FDA was also conducting inspections of drugs before and after they are distributed to retailers.
A spokesperson for the FDA said that despite inspections at border posts, there are many difficulties in stemming the flow of counterfeit drugs across Myanmar’s borders from India, Thailand and China.
Earlier this year, the FDA in cooperation with the Criminal Investigation Department, other government agencies and Interpol implemented “Operation Pangea 9”, in which 300 shops were searched for fake pharmaceutical products.
More than 100 of those stores were found to be selling fake or unregistered products.
“BPI has a large market share in Myanmar because people like the quality of their products. The price of BPI drugs has nearly doubled since the problems with counterfeit products began, but I believe it can return to normal if the FDA’s actions are successful,” said one drug store owner from Mingalar Market in Yangon.
Dr Okkar Phyo urged other manufacturers and distributors of pharmaceutical products to follow MPF’s example in dealing with counterfeit products and called on the public to assist the FDA in its ongoing efforts by reporting products they suspect to be fake.
Myanmar Pharmaceutical Factory will change packaging on some BPI products after a counterfeit issue.