Wed, 12 Sep 2001

Police target Senen, Pramuka markets for fake drug raids

JAKARTA (JP): City police are targeting two markets in Central Jakarta and East Jakarta in an attempt to crackdown on the distribution of fake medicines in the capital, an officer said on Tuesday.

Spokesman for the Jakarta Police Sr. Comr. Anton Bachrul Alam said the police, jointly working with the Food and Drug Control Agency (BPOM), has deployed plainclothes personnel at the Senen market in Central Jakarta and Pramuka market in East Jakarta to collect evidence on the alleged distribution of fake medicines.

"We are currently targeting the Senen and Pramuka markets and hopefully, if we succeed with our investigations there, we will continue to other markets in the capital," Anton told The Jakarta Post.

He did not deny the possibility of raids on drug stores in other places across the capital if there was enough evidence of illegal activity.

"All places that allegedly sell fake prescription drugs will be checked," he said.

The police and BPOM were not only targeting traders at the two markets, but if possible, also apprehending distributors, Anton added.

"Insyaallah (God willing) our systematic operation will produce maximum results," he said.

Anton, however, said not all prescription drugs sold at the markets were fake as some were believed to have been taken from the pharmaceutical factories and illegally sold to the traders at the markets for a cheaper price.

"That practice (taking original medicines from the factory and selling them at the markets without a physician's prescription) is also a crime," Anton said.

When contacted separately, Jakarta's Police chief of the drug unit Adj. Sr. Comr. Carlo Tewu said that for his unit the crackdown on fake prescriptions had become the top priority.

"But it takes time because we have to collect samples from the field and then take them to a forensic laboratory to make sure whether they are fake or not. If we find that the drugs are fake, we'll take the sellers to the station for questioning," Carlo told the Post.

Tempo magazine reported that one out of three prescription drugs sold in the Pramuka market was fake and that the producers used powder or dyes to fill the capsules.

The Food and Drugs Control Agency found that from January to May, at least five prescription drugs had been fabricated. The five tablets were Alphaphist, Etambutol, Codein, Himagen and Hiralgen.

The head of the agency Sampurno, told the weekly he was deeply concerned and regretted the lack of law enforcement being used against the perpetrators.(emf)