The Kurdistan Ministry of Health announced that they will ban medical clinics that sell “cheap and unregistered medicines,” reported Dr. Khalis Qadir Ahma, spokesman for the Ministry.

In December 2010, the government confiscated counterfeit 20 products from several Kurdish companies based upon quality control testing. “We do not know where those counterfeits are coming from, but there is an investigation going on,” said Dr. Ahmad.

Dr. Ahmad believes that the low level of health education of the populace increases their susceptibility to charlatans selling counterfeits, he told The Kurdish Globe.

While good quality medications are imported from the rest of the world, Kurdish officials are concerned about fake drugs brought up from Baghdad.

“In Baghdad they do not register medicine companies and their products,” said Dr. Amin.” Fake medicines are also smuggled in from Turkey and Iran. It is a lucrative business; they earn a lot of money with it.”

Dr. Muath Amin, head of the Syndicate of Iraqi-Kurdistan Pharmacists (IKPS), estimates that 2,000 stores sell illegal medicines in Erbil province.

“We try to control all pharmacists and warehouses that sell medicines, said Dr. Amin. “The syndicate is responsible for registration and regulation matters of the pharmacists. We check many medicines in our laboratory but we do not have the capacity to control everything.”

To battle the smugglers, the KRG is inspecting medications at entry points in Kurdistan. In addition, Kurdistan is supporting its first legal domestic medicine production facility, Awamedica, formed in 2009.

“We follow the World Health Organization’s standards,” said Jowan Barhan Resul, Awamedica’s general manager. “This is new in Kurdistan, and because of those high-quality standards, the government placed an order at our company.”