According to a press release received from the National Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM) on Wednesday, 11 WHO SEARO member countries have joined the workshop, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, North Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka , Thailand, and East Timor.
The workshop, which has been organized in a hybrid format, aims to encourage all WHO SEARO members to apply a risk-based approach to ensure the quality of manufactured drugs and strengthen their regulatory systems.
BPOM head Penny K. Lukito said that Indonesia's appointment as the workshop's host showed WHO SEARO's appreciation toward BPOM's work and commitment to handling drug products that do not meet safety standards.
"The finding of contaminated drug cases some time ago has become a momentum for the BPOM to carry out comprehensive improvement and preventive efforts to strengthen the drug safety and quality assurance system," she said.
The implementation of drug supervision in Indonesia has involved three main parties, namely the pharmaceutical industry, which has the primary supervision responsibility as the holder of distribution permits; the government, as the regulator; and the community, as the consumers, she added.
The BPOM has taken several anticipatory measures as one of the regulatory parties, including intensifying product quality surveillance, inspecting production and distribution facilities, examining the quality of circulating drugs, and imposing administrative sanctions.
Enforcement efforts will also continue if there is a criminal element in the health sector, said Lukito.
In addition, it has continued to collaborate and communicate with the WHO as well as the national drug regulatory authorities of other countries by exchanging information and experiences so that they can bolster each other's regulatory systems.
"We expect this workshop to enhance collaboration and synergy among the national (drug) regulatory authorities throughout SEARO to build an effective global ecosystem in tackling and preventing the circulation of illegal, counterfeit, and substandard drugs," Lukito said.
Regional Advisor of WHO SEARO, Adrien Inoubli, said that the workshop was a good opportunity for all drug regulators in the WHO's working areas to learn from the experiences of the Indonesian government in dealing with drug and food safety issues.
"The actions taken by the BPOM and its transparency in handling the crisis (related to medicines and food) are important (work) qualities, which must be owned by a modern regulatory assistant," he added.
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