Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) on Monday received four mini-laboratories worth 32m/- to boost control measures of counterfeit and sub-standard medicines, particularly in rural areas.
The kits bring the number of mini-labs to 16 out of which 11 are already operational Mbeya, Dodoma, Mtwara, Mara, Arusha, Ruvuma, Tanga and Kigoma regions.Five of the mini-labs will be distributed to zonal stations in Kagera, Rukwa, Kilimanjaro, Manyara, Morogoro and Iringa regions.
Receiving the labs at the TFDA headquarters in the City yesterday, the authority's Director General, Mr Hiiti Sillo, said that the mini- labs are increasingly becoming useful and cost effective tools in medicine quality assurance.
He said with the use of the kits, unregistered medicinal products will be reduced in the local markets through the Post Market Surveillance (PMS) that have been conducted in the country since 2007.Statistics from the PMS, according to Mr Sillo, show that a total of 1,257 samples have been screened since 2007 up to February, this year, showing positive trend in testing medicinal products.
"Out of 1,257 samples tested, 1,211 of them complied with quality specifications as per international standards while 46 failed indicating a failure rate of 2.7 down from 13 per cent in 2002 when the mini-labs were not in use," he said.Out of those that did not comply, he said, five were counterfeit medicinal products that contained no active ingredients at all.
However, he said recent PMS conducted in the Lake Zone showed that the country still faces a challenge of unscrupulous dealers who circulate fake medicines to unsuspecting patients.He thanked the Germany based Merk Group of Companies for the support, saying that it had come at a time when TFDA and other law enforcement agencies are intensifying the fight against low quality medicinal products in the country.
The kits are normally used in detecting counterfeit and sub-standard medicines among the identified products that include ARVs, anti-malarials, anti-tuberculosis and selected anti-biotics such as Ampicilin, Amoxcilin, Metronidazole, Ciprofloxacin, Cotrimaxzole and Erythromycin.
Speaking at the event, Merk Group of Companies Managing Director, Mr Klaus Boehm said his company continues to participate in external research, with the aim of increasing the number of medicines that can be tested."Essentially these mini-labs will also ensure that scarce resources are not wasted on dangerous medicinal scam and we hope this contribution will save lives of many unsuspecting people," he said.
A representative from the German embassy, Mr Hans Koeppel, said dealers of sub-standard drugs are increasingly becoming organized crime, pledging his country's more support to fight it.