Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal brand­ing changed af­ter coun­ter­feits

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - MYINT KAY THI my­in­tkaythi@mm­

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.

Photo: Zarni Phyo

Myan­mar Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Fac­tory will change pack­ag­ing on some BPI prod­ucts af­ter a coun­ter­feit is­sue.

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