OVER Ks1.8 billion worth of confiscated medicines, which were sold under the name of BPI with fake packaging in the marketplace, and Ks16.5 million worth of low-quality denatured alcohol have been destroyed within the compound of the Pharmaceutical Factory (Insein) in Yangon on Saturday.
U Ko Ko Lwin, Managing Director of Myanmar Pharmaceutical Factory, said: “We used different methods to destroy a wide variety of counterfeit medicines without environmental impact. Dilution is one way to destroy drugs, especially for low-quality denatured alcohol. We use rollers to damage some tablets and capsules and put them in the ground, planning to destroy the rest of the medicines by fire at Waste-to-Energy Factory in Yangon’s Hlawga Township, which is currently operated by Yangon City Development Committee.”
Since September 2006, collaborative efforts have been made by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Special Investigation Bureau and the Ministry of Industry to inspect illegal production and distribution of fake drugs. A wide variety of counterfeit medicines amounting to over Ks2.8 billion were seized during raids at the warehouses, shops and other locations. Of the total, some confiscated drugs were firstly destroyed after final decisions for relevant cases have been made by judges.
U Ko Ko Aung said: “This is the first time authorities destroyed billions worth of those drugs with fake labelling and privately produced low-quality denatured alcohol in many years.”
Those fake drugs were mostly confiscated in Yangon and Mandalay regions, with the majority of them illegally imported from foreign countries.
“Those fake drugs are likely to remain in the domestic market as we continue measures to uncover a network of counterfeit medication sales distribution chains mainly in the two big cities. Thanks to the operation, the sale of fake drugs significantly decreased in the market. Further investigation will continue in the market in an effort to eliminate counterfeit drugs,” U Ko Ko Aung continued.
U Ko Ko Aung also urges people to check medicines before they buy so as to protect themselves from the possible risks of fake drugs and expired medicines.
A total of 287 kinds of medicines have been produced by Myanmar Pharmaceutical Factory, which was previously known as Burma Pharmaceutical Industry (BPI), mainly from Yangon and Kyaukse. Those factories manufacture new medicines each year.
The majority of medicines are imported from foreign countries as Myanmar produces below 15 per cent of national requirements, including the private sector. The MPF currently produces only 10 per cent of total consumption.
In April, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was also able to identify and seize more than Ks16.5 million worth of sub-standard alcohol (spirits) produced and distributed without permission.
The value of the confiscated fake BPI medicines are a record high throughout the history of seized fake medicines, officials said.
Some of the fake BPI medicines and sub-standard alcohol were burnt or buried yesterday at Pharmaceutical Factory (Insein).
The remaining fake medicines will be burnt and destroyed in the YCDC waste-to-energy factory in Hlawga.
Destruction of the fake medicines and sub-standard alcohol were conducted according to WHO guidelines in order to prevent damage to the environment. The sub-standard alcohol was diluted and treated in a wastewater tank, which was then discarded down the drain. The fake medicines were destroyed by roller and buried.
Medicines that are not produced according to GMP guidelines are not effective in treating illnesses and could make the patient’s situation worse. Detaining and destroying fake BPI medicines will support the health of the public in addition to having good quality medicines available in the market, officials said.
According to official statistics, the MPF produced medicines worth Ks28-30 billion in 2016-2017 fiscal year. The figures increased to Ks50 billion in the current FY.
By May Thet Hnin