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Import of fake and substandard drugs prevented

By Ye Lwin (Volume 26, No. 503)

THE president of the Myanmar Pharmaceutical and Medical Equipment Entrepreneurs Association has called for an end to imports of fake and substandard drugs, which he says are harmful to public health.

“All importers should pay attention to business ethics and community ethics when they are involved in the trading of pharmaceuticals, which are essential for public health,” the association’s president, Dr Win Si Thu, said at the organisation’s annual meeting on December 22.

He said it was important to prevent the flow of these drugs into the market “because they are directly related to people’s lives”.

In the 2008-2009 financial year, pharmaceutical and medical equipment imports amounted to US$150 million, up from $113 million in 2007-2008, according to figures from the Ministry of Commerce.

Imported products account for about 80 percent of pharmaceuticals used by domestic consumers, with most imports coming from neighbouring countries such as India, Thailand, China and Bangladesh, as well as from Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea and some EU countries.

The remaining 20pc are manufactured domestically by three state-owned Myanmar Pharmaceutical Industry factories in Yangon, Tatkone and Pyin Oo Lwin.

“We need to encourage the development of the domestic pharmaceutical industry [to reduce reliance on imports],” Dr Win Si Thu said at the MPMEEA meeting.

U Win Myint, the president of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said at the meeting that the industry should focus on production of effective indigenous medicine for domestic consumption.
“It is also important to scrutinise the quality of drugs imported from abroad,” he said.

U Zaw Moe Khine, the secretary of MPMEEA, said that in September the association signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korean Pharmaceutical Association for bilateral cooperation in the production and trade of pharmaceuticals.

“This is a major breakthrough for our industry,” he said.
About 6000 brands of pharmaceuticals from 300 companies all over the world are registered with Food and Drugs Administration.