Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The counterfeit medicines landscape in Indonesia

The Jakarta Post reported recently that Indonesia remains a counterfeit medicines hotspot. Distribution is though both the Internet and also in pharmacies. “It is believed that these counterfeit drugs enter the pharmacies through freelance drugs salespeople.” said Indonesian Pharmacists Association (IAI) secretary-general Nurul Falah.

Research sponsored by Pfizer in the capital and surrounding cities as well as East Java and North Sumatra showed the wide availability of counterfeits. It focused on Pfizer's drug sildenafil (an erectile dysfunction drug usually sold as Viagra,) They analysed sales at drugstores, pharmacies, sidewalk stalls and via the Internet. Of 518 tablets found in 157 outlets some 45 % turned out to be counterfeit. They also identified  Jakarta's Pramuka Market a well known source of fake drugs. 

This is consistent with IP Komodo's understanding. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals are either made locally or sometimes imported; distribution is via wholesale markets like Pasar Pramuka, then through roving salesmen, on motorbikes, who sell their wares to pharmacies and medicine shops throughout cities. Despite being a regulated industry pharmacies themselves do not always observe rules, such as having a pharmacist present. They find no problem sourcing from roving salesmen.  The Department of Health officers that regulate pharmacies have made some efforts to investigate them, but few sanctions are ever given.

But the real problem is the scale of supply end in the wholesale markets where criminal elements rule the fake drugs industry. For this only police investigations will have any effect and unfortunately police IPR raids have all but ceased in Indonesia.


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