The municipal government of Ho Chi Minh City tightened control over traditional medicines after 10% were found to be fake.
Substandard medicines flood the market
Ho Chi Minh City's Department of Health recovered a number traditional medicines which were mixed with chemicals, contaminated or did not meet standards.
The products of the manufacturer Cao Nghia Duong were ordered to be taken off the shelves on March 25, after they were found to have not met moisture criteria. On the same day, the Soc Trang Department of Health also announced that the medicines produced by Thuy Xuong had a high level of contaminants.
According to current regulations, manufacturers are responsible for accurately labeling their own products and to register them with management agencies. However, lax oversight has led to the market being flooded by substandard products, eroding confidence in genuine medicines.
At the second National Pharmaceutical Conference, Pham Khanh Phong Lan, Vice Director of Ho Chi Minh Department of Health announced that 90% of traditional medicines are illegally imported, mostly from China and Cambodia. A decree has been issued stating that from 2014, medicine manufacturers must follow good manufacturing practices (GMP) in order to continue operations.
The traditional medicine industry in Vietnam is quite large. There are an estimated 385 pharmacies and 100 manufacturers in Ho Chi Minh City alone.
Truong Thin, former President of the Institute of Traditional Medicine said, "Traditional medicine has a valuable place in our culture, and should be preserved. We have to be careful not to over-regulate the industry and risk losing it altogether."