March 28, 2018 / 7:51 AM / 2 years ago

Philippines' Duterte now targets fake drugs

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he delivers a speech during the 121st founding anniversary of the Philippine Army (PA) at Taguig city, Metro Manila, Philippines March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has opened a new front in his war on drugs, targeting fake over-the-counter medicines to try to stem the spread of counterfeit paracetamol, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Salvador Panelo, chief presidential legal counsel, said Duterte had ordered police to arrest those responsible.

“They do not only undermine or weaken the national economy by hitting a large-scale industry, they also threaten national security by endangering the health of a vast majority of the people,” Panelo said in a statement.

An estimated one in 10 medical products in low- and middle-income countries is substandard or falsified, the World Health Organization said in January. It said the fake drugs business accounts for about 10 percent of the annual $300 billion global industry.

Panelo said poor-quality drugs could also contribute to antibiotic resistance, threatening to undermine life-saving medicines in future.

More than 4,000 Filipinos have been killed by police during Duterte’s war on illegal drug use and thousands more by unidentified armed men. Police say those killed were all dealers who put up violent resistance.

Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Nick Macfie

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