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Govt seizes $2.25 million worth of fake drugs

Fake pharmaceutical products on display (Photo: DVB)

Over 2.8 billion kyat (US$2.25 million) worth of fake pharmaceutical products were seized from drug stores across Burma last month alone, according to government officials.

At a press conference on Tuesday, the Ministry of Industry said that the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Food and Drug Administration carried out a joint operation in August that uncovered widespread distribution of counterfeit drugs.

Inspectors found that drug stores around the country, including those at Rangoon’s Bogyoke and Shwe Pyisone markets, were selling fake products bearing the brand name of well-known drug companies.

They said that most commonly copied products were those of the Myanmar Pharmaceutical Factory — a company formerly called the Burma Pharmaceutical Industry, and still better known as BPI.

The company, once the sole drug manufacturer in Burma under the socialist regime of former dictator Ne Win, still operates under the Ministry of Industry and remains one of the most trusted drug brands among Burmese consumers.

Ko Ko Aung, the director of the BPI factory in Rangoon’s Insein Township, warned that the proliferation of counterfeit drugs poses a serious risk to public health.

“The fake drugs in many cases have little or no effect on users, but may also cause drug poisoning, as they were not produced in accordance with GMP [Good Manufacturing Practice] standards,” he said.

The BPI factory in Insein currently produces various types of pharmaceuticals, including 11 different antibiotics.