Public cautioned against fake drugs

The Head of Drugs Enforcement of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA),  Mr Thomas Amedzro, has cautioned the public about the rate at which fake and substandard drugs have invaded the Ghanaian market.

This development, he said, was so alarming and was putting the lives of the ordinary Ghanaian at risk.

Speaking to The Mirror, Mr Amedzro observed that although there were a number of safety measures that had been put in place to protect the ordinary Ghanaian, some unscrupulous people were able to smuggle in fake drugs to undermine that effort.

He said these fake drugs were packaged so well that it was sometimes difficult for one to tell the difference between them and the original ones, adding that it was expedient for those with chronic diseases to keep samples of their drugs with them to compare the batch numbers, colour, texture and smell of the particular drug.

Mr Amedzro said all drugs had to be registered and approved, while the manufacturers and the importers also needed to be registered and inspected to ensure the delivery of consistent and quality drugs.

He said a post market surveillance was always carried out by the FDB to check conditions under which the drugs were being stored, documentation on the mode of importation and transportation, and samples of the products taken for testing. 

In addition, he said the manufacturers and importers also needed a licence for every consignment of drugs to enable the FDA to always be aware of new drugs being introduced into the country.

For those who may be doing a one-off purchase, he advised them to check the manufacturers’ address since fake drugs normally did not come with a manufacturers’ address but only the country of origin. 

He also stressed the need for the public to confer with the FDA anytime they had to purchase new drugs to ascertain their quality and origin to prevent any form of tragedy.

According to him, his outfit had arrested a number of offenders, with some serving time in prison after conviction.

Others, Mr Amedzro said, had been arraigned before the courts to answer charges of peddling fake and substandard drugs. 

He said his outfit had been working with personnel of the Ghana Police Service, the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) and officials of the Customs Divisionof the Ghana Revenue Authority at the entry points of the country to apprehend perpetrators of such acts.

Mr Amedzro described the notion that officials in charge had collaborated with importers to allow those substandard drugs to enter the Ghanaian market as false. 

He explained that due to the liberalisation of trade in the West African sub-region, people were able to smuggle the fake drugs into the country by hiding them under other goods under the guise of importing something else other than drugs. 

When contacted, the Chief Executive Officer of Kama Group Ghana Limited and the immediate past president of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana (PMAG), Dr Michael Agyekum Addo, encouraged the public to have confidence in locally manufactured drugs since they were under strict supervision of the FDA. 

He expressed optimism that local manufacturers were capable of providing for the health needs of Ghanaians with respect to the production of drugs and appealed to government to restrict the production of certain drugs such as blood tonics and cough syrups to the local manufacturers. 

Dr Addo encouraged stakeholders to organise seminars to educate the public on how to properly identify fake drugs from the real drugs.

Story: Deborah Cromwell/The Mirror

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