The Foods and Drugs Authority (FDA) has expressed worry over the influx of Substandard and Fortified (SF) medicines on the market and had warned that it will not hesitate to seize and safely dispose them.
The Authority has therefore implored stakeholders to support its efforts by reporting suspicious activities involving SF medicines for them to be halted immediately to protect the health and safety of Ghanaians.
Addressing participants at a stakeholders’ meeting in Cape Coast on the issue, Head of Communications and Public Education at the FDA, Mrs. Rhoda Appiah, indicated that the FDA’s Post Market surveillances continued to raise concerns about the availability of substandard medicines.
They include, especially uterotonics, she added and warned of its dire effect on maternal mortality.
The stakeholders meeting organised by the FDA with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO), was attended by representatives of the pharmaceutical society of Ghana, health institutions, GPRTU, Over the Counter medicine sellers Association and the media.
It formed part of a comprehensive risk communications approach by the FDA to raise awareness on Substandard and Falsified medicines.
Participants discussed the various initiatives being employed by the FDA to combat the sale and use of substandard medicines and its associated challenges.
They as well explored ways by which stakeholders could assist the efforts of the FDA to adequately address the menace.
She noted that SF medicines mostly entered the country through unapproved routes and that the sustained collaborative efforts of stakeholders and practitioners would go a long way to reduce the illicit trade of SF medicines in the country.
She gave an overview of the counterfeit medicine situation in Ghana and stressed that “if the product is not registered it is a first point of call for you to be concern as a consumer”.
She indicated that although the incidence of counterfeit antimalarials on the Ghanaian market had reduced significantly from 39.6 percent in 2009 to 1.4 percent in 2018, uterotonics remained a major challenge with almost 50 percent counterfeit on the market.
What was even worrying, she indicated, was the fact that such counterfeit medicines were not only found in the pharmacies, but in the hospitals and health facilities as well and called on health institutions and practitioners to support the course.
She the threat of counterfeit medicines not being able to treat a specific ailment and ultimately deteriorate one’s health condition was eroding the confidence people had in the health system.
Mrs. Appiah Mentioned the country’s porous borders leading to smuggling from neighbouring countries, weak pharmaceutical regulatory oversight in neighbouring countries, inadequate funding for product quality monitoring and market surveillance as some of the challenges the FDA faced.
She stressed the need for capacity building for investigation, intelligence gathering, inspections and collation of evidence for prosecution of offenders.
Mr. John Odai-Tettey, Regional Head of the FDA, said the WHO estimated that one in ten medical products in low- and middle-income countries were substandard and considered a multi-million-dollar business that claimed the lives of millions around the World.
He noted that SF medicines continued to be the bane of the developing World of which Ghana was not an exception.
Mr Odai-Tettey spoke about efforts the Authority was making with neighbouring countries through the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) and the International Police to combat the menace.
To consolidate the gains, he said the FDA would continue to heighten its surveillance at the ports of entry.