The saga of fake vaccine distribution continues. A number of the fake vaccine producers, who happened to be pharmacists and nurses, have been arrested. Some clinics and hospitals were also found to be involved. But there was one sad news about a parent of a child victim physically attacking a hospital director in Jakarta.
Following that news, I begin to question whether medical doctors should actually be criminalised in the case of fake vaccine? If doctors are guilty, violence towards them still cannot be tolerated. The doctor himself should be the one to bring this case to court.
So who is the real criminal in the fake vaccine case and perhaps also other health cases? If a physician knows that the vaccine or other health products are fake, and still prescribes them for their patients, then the doctor has obviously committed crime. He or she may be considered as a health criminal and needs to be punished accordingly.
But what if the doctor received the fake vaccine and other fake products from the pharmacy? Drugs and medication supply is not the responsibility of the doctor, but in fact the responsibility of the pharmacist, inside or outside the hospital. Pharmacists should be the ones being responsible in checking whether a product is fake or not.
The fake vaccine producer is a criminal
Pharmacists and other parties involved in producing counterfeit vaccine should also be classified as health criminals. Why? Because they have purposely made these fake products and distributed them to the general public. I think everyone will agree to say that they are in fact criminals.
After 13 years or so, the fake vaccines have already been distributed and administered to many children who receive no benefit of the vaccine and in fact will have to bear the loss, if any. How coud they produce fake vaccines freely for such a long time without being touched by the hands of law enforcement? Do they have permits to produce these vaccines? If they do not have the license to produce, then it is clear they are the true criminals. But if it turns out that they do have a license from the Agency for Food and Drug Administration (BPOM), but produce counterfeit drugs, then should not BPOM as the licensing body also be classified as a criminal for allowing fake products to become widespread ? But of course BPOM should not be responsible for this case, if it turns out that the fake vaccines were illegally produced and marketed. But what about the responsibility of the Ministry of Health or the Regional Health Office? Why have these fake vaccines been distributed freely for 13 years to hospitals and other official health facilities?
Counterfeit herbal medicine criminals
Similar to fake vaccines, which have been distibuted easily in the course of 13 years, the production and distribution of herbal medicine is even more widespread in this country.
Which party is guilty in this case? The manufacturer or the liscensing body? There are many fake herbal medicine products circulated in the market with permits from BPOM, only to be withdrawn from circulation because they contain harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, BPOM continues to make the same mistake by giving permission to new fake herbal products, which would eventually be withdrawn for containing harmful chemicals. There are many examples of these fake products, such as herbal medicine for bone pain which are mixed with prednisone drug ingredients harmful for the body. Diet herbal products are also often mixed with other banned products. Likewise, many herbal products which claim to boost male virility, are mixed with PDE-5 inhibitors.
Where is the responsibility of BPOM as a state institution?
How come the public is not aware about the increasing number of victims or casualties whose bodies were harmed as a result of a mixture of hazardous chemicals? Could the herbalist also be classified as criminals if they do not know the the herbal products are mixed with hazardous chemicals?
Moreover there are many fake alternative treatments advertised claiming they can enlarge penis size or cure all kinds of cancer. Who or which institution should be responsible for this? Should not the licensing authority be responsible too and be considered as committing crime? Where is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health or the Regional Health Office when they read these such advertisements with fake claims?
Why are these illegal matters left alone? If one allows crime to happen, can they also be charged guilty for the crime? It is strange also that the general public who were harmed did not channel their fury to these herbalists? Why would they not express anger like the parent who assaulted the medical doctor?
We can look further into permits for commercials in the media, particularly on television. Who has the responsibility to give permits for the fake claims being advertised in local and national television stations? Should the permit authority officials also be classified as criminals for allowing fraud through false advertising?
Counterfeit drug criminals
Almost every one has heard news about fake drugs. If you ask any citizen of Jakarta, where one can purchase counterfeit drugs, especially low priced ones, in general, they are most likely able to give the same answer. This means that the circulation of counterfeit drugs is no longer a secret or news for many. Who can be blamed as the criminal in this matter? It is both the manufacturer and the vendor.
But why does BPOM allow this to happen and not be held responsible? Should BPOM or BPOM officials be considered as criminals too? Ironically the general public do not feel angry about this matter, and in fact keep on buying medication in these places because of its cheap price.
Expectations towards law enforcement authorities
We all trust the work of professional and honest law enforcement officers. Let us leave it to the law enforcement authorities to determine who deserves to be considered as criminals in the fake vaccine case, so that they get a fair punishment. But those who did not commit any crime should be exempt from any lawsuits.
As it is now the right moment to eradicate fake vaccine crime cases, this should also be the right moment to eradicate all other crimes in the health field, as mentioned above. The general public has suffered enough from what these health criminals have done.
Article is generously translated by Danny Yatim from Angsamerah Associates.