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14 arrested on fake pharmaceutical drug charges

Fake pharmaceutical products on display (Photo: DVB)

Fourteen people have been arrested for producing, storing and selling fake pharmaceutical products, officials from the Ministry of Industry and the Food and Drug Administration Department announced at a press conference in Naypyidaw on Tuesday.

Government officials said those detained had operated a widespread network of counterfeit Chinese drugs, which they packaged and labeled in jars as BPI products.

BPI, or the Burma Pharmaceutical Industry, was once the sole drug manufacturer in the country under the regime of former dictator Gen. Ne Win. Today, rebranded as Myanmar Pharmaceutical Factory, but still better known as BPI, the firm operates under the Ministry of Industry and remains one of the most trusted brand names among Burmese consumers.

Over 2.8 billion kyat (US$2.25 million) worth of fake pharmaceutical products was seized from drug stores across Burma last month alone, according to government officials, who said the counterfeit BPI drugs were discovered while the Ministry of Industry was conducting a market survey.

They said the Special Investigation Department had raided 11 drug stores and 22 storage sites, including facilities at Bogyoke Market and Shwe Pyisone Market, between 31 August and 12 September.

BPI factory officer Ko Ko Aung has since been cited saying that as from 1 October, all BPI products will be packaged in official BPI imprinted boxes, with trademarked seals and labels.