The Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Alfred Sugri Tia, has called for collaboration among West African countries and civil society organisations to address the issue of fake and substandard drugs in the sub-region.
He also urged the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists (WAPCP) to liaise with the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) and ensure the implementation of the regional anti-counterfeiting plan at the individual country level.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 26th annual general meeting in Accra, he said fighting the drug menace was not dependent on individual countries, but rather it called for collaboration and partnerships among countries and civil society organisations.
The three-day meeting, which was on the theme: “The Impact of Fake and Substandard Drugs on Quality of Life in West Africa,” is being attended by WAPCP Fellows from member countries.
The occasion also marked the 56th Council Meeting of the WAPCP.
A total of 134 new members were inducted into the council after they had fully completed a four-year programme.
Addressing the issue of substandard drugs, Dr Sugri said medicines that were usually fake included expensive products such as anticancer agents and anti-retroviral and aphrodisiacs.
He said the health effects of substandard, spurious, falsified, falsely labelled and counterfeit (SSFFC) drugs included antibiotic resistance, therapeutic failure, poisoning, toxicity and sometimes death.
Dr Sugri said the economic impact of the SSFFC was enormous with the WHO reporting that counterfeits led to loss of $32 billion to the industry in 2004 and $40 billion in 2006, which had been projected to reach $75 billion by 2010.
He said both developed and developing countries were plagued with this global menace, with Africa and West Africa more at risk because of a multiplicity of factors such as cross-border trade, smuggling and peddling of medicines.
In his welcome address, the President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSG), Mr James Ohemeng Kyei, urged countries in West Africa to harmonise their laws on counterfeit drugs in order to smoke out counterfeiters.
He said thousands of deaths had resulted from fake drugs and increasing the burden of diseases in the sub-region and that fake anti-malarial medications had been threatening efforts to control malaria in Africa.
“The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control Act Cap N1 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 have five definitions for fake drugs. In Ghana, part seven of the Food and Drug Authority of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851) does not make any provision for terminologies such as fake or substandard,” Mr Kyei said.
Mr Kyei, therefore, urged member states to use the World Health Organisation’s definition of fake drugs which covered sub-standard, spurious, falsely-labelled, falsified and counterfeit medical products, while in the process of having their laws harmonised.
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