Saturday, August 30, 2008

Iraq moves to curb sales of fake drugs

From the Los Angeles Times:
Amid the cacophony of Baghdad's Bab Sharaji market, Yasir Mazen peddles counterfeit Viagra and other pills, gels and creams promising cures for everything from sexual dysfunction to bad skin.

It's a thriving business. "They always come back to buy more," the 20-year-old said of his customers.

But Mazen, as well as sellers of legitimate medications, may find it harder to get hold of goods to hawk come Monday. That's the deadline the Ministry of Health has set for enforcing drug laws that have been largely ignored since the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Though the laws remained in effect, the invasion and its aftermath led to a vacuum in enforcement while the newly opened borders sent counterfeit goods flooding into the country.

The government says the deadline is part of a sweeping effort to bring Iraq in line with international norms and clean up the burgeoning trade in fake drugs. There are only two state-run pharmaceutical factories in Iraq, so 90% of the medications used here are imported. Nearly all are made by companies not registered in Iraq and sold without being tested for efficacy. ...more

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