Indonesia remains an easy target for the distribution of counterfeit medicine sold not only through the Internet but also in pharmacies Indonesian Pharmacists Association (IAI) secretary-general Nurul Falah said.
Apart from Jakarta, there are also fake drugs distribution hubs in Surabaya, East Java, and Medan, North Sumatra.
Nurul said the distribution of fake drugs continued despite raids by the authorities.
“We have tried our best to curb the distribution of fake drugs but those sold in pharmacies are hard to detect because they resemble the real thing,” Nurul told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
“It is believed that these counterfeit drugs enter the pharmacies through freelance drugs salespeople.”
The Victory Project research, conducted by the University of Indonesia’s urology department in 2011, showed that drugs related with erectile dysfunction therapy (phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor, or PDE5I) were the mostly counterfeited drugs.
The research, sponsored by drug manufacturer PT Pfizer Indonesia, in the Greater Jakarta area; Bandung, West Java; Surabaya, Malang, East Java; and Medan showed that the drug sildenafil (an erectile dysfunction drug sold as Viagra, Revatio and various other trade names) was sold in drugstores, pharmacies, sidewalk stalls and via the Internet. Of the 518 tablets bought from the 157 outlets in the areas, 45 percent of the samples collected were counterfeit.
Based on research in the respective areas, the distribution of fake drugs in both Greater Jakarta and East Java reached 50 percent, while Medan and Bandung recorded 20 percent and 18 percent respectively.
Nurul predicted that the amount of fake medicine in circulation would rise further because a number of pharmacies lacked the sufficient equipped to detect counterfeit drugs.
“In the near future, we will provide training to pharmacists to monitor the distribution of fake drugs. We will also use special devices to detect fake drugs to prevent counterfeit drugs from being sold in pharmacies next year,” he said.
He added that his association would also request that the relevant agencies monitored drug sales at Pramuka Market in East Jakarta. Another worrying observations was that some pharmacists worked for up to four pharmacies.
“If they work in four pharmacies simultaneously, they will face problems in monitoring the drugs sold there,” he said.
Meanwhile, a researcher from the University of Indonesia’s pharmacology department Melva Louisa said that in addition to erectile dysfunction drugs, other drugs often counterfeited were those to treat headaches and pain.
“Fake medicine are not made in accordance with regulatory standards. The issue is not only occurring in Indonesia, but also other developing countries,” Nurul said.
The Indonesia Anti-Counterfeiting Community chairwoman Widyaretna Buenastuti proposed that the relevant agencies should raise the issue of transnational medicine trade at the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Community Forum in Bali.
“The international trade in counterfeit medicine must be addressed together to prevent a developing country, such as Indonesia, from becoming a conduit for the illegal medicine trade,” said Widyaretna.