Thursday, January 27, 2011

The fake traditional medicines industry

Jamu is Indonesian traditional medicine. Many well known brands of Jamu exist, such as Nyonya Meneer. But much is produced locally by home industries, often sold as powder to mix with water at sidewalk stands or by mobile vendors. Most claim medicinal properties, some are for improved sexual performance!

Authorities in Central Java have been struggling to prevent a number of small local producers making Jamu and adding chemicals (usually pharmaceutical substances such as painkillers) in breach of Department of Health (BPOM) rules. BPOM has said it found hazardous chemicals in 93 traditional medicines from one area in Central Java in 2010. Worried about the danger of use of hazardous chemicals BPOM in Semarang Central Java arranged police raids in October 2010 and prosecuted a number of sellers in January 2011. BPOM is now unhappy that most were released without serious penalties and will return to their old habits .

Jamu is sometimes sold in packs branded, like Nyonya Meneer:

Home industries products are sold under their own unregistered brands. Much like the western pharma industry in past times. All of this is instructive as to how a developing industry guarantees product quality in the long term, through use of brands. Consumers potentially worried by risks will be driven to the branded products which have the best reputation. Now the Cilakap home industry brands in Central Java are developing a bad name.

But no traditional Jamu or modern pharmaceutical has yet been found to cure IP Komodo Dragon’s halitosis. (For more about what lives in my mouth:

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