The Ministry of Health has issued a warning against the purchase of all types of food and medicine online, emphasising that these products lack proper registration and cannot guarantee quality and safety. The cautionary statement comes after the discovery of six counterfeit medicinal items available on the internet.

During coordinated raids in the Pha’av village of the Pha’av commune in Kampong Cham’s Batheay district last week, specialists from the ministry’s department of pharmaceuticals, food, medical equipment and cosmetics, alongside local health officials and authorities, uncovered the fraudulent items. 

The operation was conducted in association with the provincial court prosecutor.

A November 29 press release stated that the raids led to the identification of six counterfeit medical items, all containing banned substances. The products discovered included calcium tablets and capsules, antacid tablets and other items aimed at treating constipation and eye conditions.

The National Health Products Quality Control Center (NHQC) found that some of the products contained Diclofenac Sodium or Betamethasone, both of which have severe health implications and could be fatal with prolonged use.

“Please discontinue buying any kind of food or medicine on social media platforms such as TikTok, Telegram and YouTube, as these medicines and products cannot guarantee quality and safety,” the press release stated.

The ministry advised citizens to safeguard both their finances and well-being by purchasing products that are duly registered and approved, identifiable by visa and registration numbers issued by the ministry. Items should be bought from authorised drugstores and sub-pharmacies.

In response to the discovery, the ministry took legal action, referring the responsible parties to the provincial court.

Nuth Sambath, president of the Institute of Medicine, Biology and Agriculture at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, stressed the danger of imitation pharmaceuticals. He described such products as “double-edged weapons” – potentially curing diseases but simultaneously endangering the patient.

“Once the medicine is identified as counterfeit, it is ineffective and can also be detrimental to consumer health. As a result, [they have] a severe impact on the health of citizens. It’s not just these medicines; I have also seen various supplements being sold on social media,” he said.

He urged the public not to purchase questionable products due to their unverified origins and the challenges in holding someone accountable for any resultant medical issues. 

Sambath also called for collaboration between the health ministry and the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications to curb the online advertisement of supplements, as a preventive measure for public health.