WE REFER to your report, “Pharmacy fined for having illegal drugs,” (The Star, Feb 14).
We applaud the Pharmaceutical Services Enforcement Division of the Health Ministry for the successful action taken against a pharmacy for possession of unregistered drugs including V-Stone, which contains sildenafil citrate.
For the record, currently Viagra is the only product containing sildenafil citrate registered with the Drug Control Authority.
Essentially, unregistered drugs are counterfeit drugs, which come from unauthorised sources. They are potentially hazardous to the health and well-being of patients as they are not subjected to quality assurance, stringent testing, regulatory control and GMP standards.
The World Health Organisation defines a counterfeit medicine (drug) as a deliberately and fraudulently mislabelled drug in terms of its identity and source, including products with the correct or wrong ingredients, without active ingredients, with incorrect quantities of active ingredients or with false packaging.
We wish to stress there are no safe counterfeit drugs since they contain unregulated substances and even unknown ingredients that put the consumers in danger.
Our association is deeply concerned with the inadequacy of the penalties under the relevant legislation provided for an offence committed.
For the safety of the patients and image of the country to attract investors, we have, over the years, met with the authorities under the Health Ministry and Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to review the relevant sections of the Acts/Regulations under their respective ministries to beef up the penalties to reflect the seriousness of the crime of counterfeiting of medicines.
Meanwhile consumers/patients are being advised to source their medicinal needs from established and reputable outlets.
The outlets are similarly advised to secure their purchases from manufacturers, importers and distributors registered with the Drug Control Authority.
Finally, we wish to take this opportunity to renew our call for increased surveillance and enforcement by the relevant government agencies as well as more severe punishment for the criminal perpetrators.
Indeed, it is time for the legislators to push for mandatory imprisonment for medicinal counterfeiting, lest the problem is allowed to fester uncontrollably.
Dr CHOE TONG SENG,