Special Court For SF Drugs Dealers In The Offing
Head of Marketing and Surveillance at the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Vigil Edward Prah-Ashun, has hinted that the FDA is working with relevant authorities to get a special court for prosecuting those engaging in the sale of Substandard and Falsified (SF) medical products.
He said it has taken about four years to prosecute cases involving SF drugs dealers and that was impeding the fight against offenders and needed a special court to fast track prosecution of such cases.
Mr. Prah-Ashun, speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting in Ho, in the Volta region, which looked at possible ways of addressing the issues of SF on the market, noted that when such cases were quickly prosecuted and perpetrators punished, it would serve as deterrent to would-be offenders.
He said a survey conducted by the FDA in collaboration with Promoting Quality of Medicines (PQM) programme of the USP in 2018, revealed a high prevalence of SF medical products on the market.
He said anti-malarial drugs, analgesics, antibiotics, anthelmintics, and uterotonics were among the most commonly SF medical products captured by the survey.
The incidence of SF anti-malarials on the market has reduced from 39.6 per cent in 2009 to 1.4 per cent in 2018, while uterotonics remained a challenge. The proportion of SF oxytocin which was 58.1 per cent in 2015 has reduced to 49.4 per cent in 2018, while ergometrine increased from 62.8 per cent in 2015 to 100 per cent in 2018, Mr. Prah-Ashun said.
He said in 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Global Fund supported the FDA to carry out a post-market surveillance on antibiotics, anti-malarials and HIV RDTs, and the result showed “a 100 per cent pass for antiretrovials sampled and tested, while there was a 37 per cent failure rate of HIV RDTs.”
He said another nationwide survey conducted by WHO on the behaviour of the Ghanaian public towards SF medicines as part of efforts to minimise the menace of these drugs in the country, which sampled 1,031 adults from 18 years and above revealed that most people were not aware of these SF medical products on the market.
Mr Prah-Ashun disclosed that with the help of WHO the Authority had currently developed some messages in form of jingles and posters to help sensitise the citizens on the situation, and called on all including the media to assist in the campaign.
He said as part of measures to deal with the situation, the FDA was intensifying its Pre-and Post-Market Surveillance (PMS) activities on pharmaceutical products to ensure that registered products conform to their marketing authorisation.
Mr Prah-Ashun said they were also taking necessary steps to ensure that unregistered products were removed from the market for public health and safety and that only quality, safe and efficacious medicines remained on the market for the consumer.
Gordon Kwabena Akurugu, Volta Regional Director of FDA, said the regulator had done lots of work with regards to SF medicines, and would not relent in its efforts to ensure that such products were removed from the market.
He said the issue of SF medical products was a global one, and not limited to Ghana alone, and WHO was much concerned about the situation and developing every necessary mechanisms to reduce it to the barest minimum.