The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has said it will bring sanity to bear on the unbridled advertising of questionable products and services on radio and television without the approval of the authority.
The authority said this would be done with respect to advertisement of products that the FDA regulates, such as food, cosmetics, household chemicals and medical devices.
The Public Affairs Director of the authority, James Lartey, told the The General Telegraph in an interview in Accra that though the law prohibits the advertisement of certain drugs that had not been approved by the FDA, these products are being advertised daily.
Mr Lartey says it is prohibited under the law to advertise drugs for diseases connected with the human reproductive systems, HIV and AIDS, heart-related diseases such as hypertension as well as fibroid and sexually transmitted diseases.
“When you look into the law, there are some diseases that the law states categorically that even if the product has been given approval, it cannot be advertised. Diseases connected with the human reproductive functioning, HIV and AIDS, heart-related diseases such as hypertension as well as fibroid, sexually transmitted diseases are all prohibited under the law.
“The law states clearly that all these diseases cannot be advertised, even if the product is given approval,” he emphasized.
He added that another form of illegal advertisement that the FDA would be concentrating on has to do with advertising products that the authority has not given approval to but are nonetheless being advertised.
According to Mr Lartey, the FDA had solicited the support of the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) headquarters, the Ghana Police Service and the BNI to clamp down on the activities of any individual or organization that would not fall in line this year.
The FDA will also engage in discussions with stakeholders in the media such as the Ghana Journalists Association, the National Media Commission, advertisers associations and independent broadcasters association on the issue.
Mr Lartey says media houses which ignore the directives that will be issued to them at the meeting will be prosecuted.
The FDA will in the course of2015 organize a series of workshops for advertising stakeholders such as the media, the judiciary and the security agencies on how they can assist the FDA in regulating the advertising of foods and drugs, he told The General Telegraph.
The FDA hopes to get them to appreciate some of the challenges confronting the authority and the position of the law.
Elaborating on the above, he said when culprits are sent to court by the authority they are sometimes given bail and then they run away, while sentences given to others are not such as would discourage others from committing such acts.
Mr Lartey continued that the FDA was going to increase its port and post market surveillance to ensure that products being offered for sale are the same products that the FDA had given approval to.
“Sometimes somebody can come with a product and register it and let’s say the product contains an active ingredient of, say, 90 per cent. When you give the person approval after registering the product, the subsequent one that is released onto the market may be 50 per cent instead of the 90 per cent registered.”
Therefore, he said, during their post market surveillance, they check labelling, and samples are taken to the lab to ascertain conformity with the standard of the original presented for approval.
He warned that people who change the expiry date of products, fake other products, or change the labelling of products will be checked through such surveillance.
Furthermore, he said, the FDA would give its entire staff the requisite additional training, whether in-house or outside the house, to maintain rigorous standards to justify the World Health Organization accreditation they got in 2014.
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