Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah, Minister of Health
The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) has taken a new bold step in its crusade against the importation of counterfeit medicines into the country.
The society in collaboration with its partners, mPedigree Network and PopOut.com, commenced the new initiative on Tuesday in Accra to halt as many fake and counterfeit medicines from entering the Ghanaian supply chain by stepping up vigilance, empowering patients and educating the public through social media about the dangers associated with the intake of fake drugs.
The crusade against fake pharmaceuticals was launched in an initiative dubbed ‘Patients’ Research, Empowerment, Vigilance and Education Through New Technologies (PREVENT)’.
Speaking at the launch, the President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, James Ohemeng- Kyei, expressed great concern about reported cases of the sale and distribution of fake medicines across the country and within the West African sub-region.
‘Thousands of deaths have been reported from fake drugs as well as increasing the burden of diseases in the West African region,’ he said.
According to him, PSGH is using a combination of social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and Instagram, among others, to engage a broad spectrum of Ghanaians on the issue of counterfeit and substandard drugs and how the lives of patients are being adversely impacted by their trade and use by unsuspecting public.
‘Patients shall, thus, have a user-friendly and convenient channel to seek advice and assistance on suspected quality problems affecting their medicines,’ he said.
As a result of the partnership with mPedigree, the president observed, ‘a growing number of medicines made and marketed by members of the PSGH have been coded with unique ID’s covered by safe scratch-off ink and tracked at individual pack level with Goldkeys Technology so that patients can verify at the point of sale or dispensing.’
He said, ‘Collaboration between PSGH and critical government regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), civil society and private sector bodies and entities would be stepped up to ensure a comprehensive response to the challenges confronting the nation and the pharmaceutical sector.’
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FDA, Hudu Mogtari, commenting on the adverse effects of counterfeit medicines, indicated that fake drugs compromise on the efficacy of medicines and in many instances expose the patient or the consumer to chemicals that are toxic and harmful to the human body.
In commending PSGH for the initiative, he urged other bodies to join the FDA to clamp down on fake drugs importers.
‘Such a bold and proactive move is most necessary to ensure we win this battle against illegal operators who will jeopardise human safety for profit motives, and build a system that will be worthy of emulation by other countries,’ he said.
BY Melvin Tarlue
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