28 June 2012

Tanzania: Drugs Watchdog Appeals for Co-Operation

DELAY in testing samples of drugs and medical supplies undermined government efforts in fighting substandard medicines using minilab kits.

The Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) has expressed its concern over a trend where it takes up to three months for samples to be screened contrary to the best practice. TFDA Director of Laboratory Services, Ms Charys Ugullum, told the 'Daily News' that timely testing of the suspected substandard drugs was the challenge facing the authority.

"We are now in the process of deploying our own technicians to the Zonal centres to operate these Kits instead of depending on pharmacists in district hospitals," she said. She was speaking shortly after the Authority received four Minilabs from Germany-based Merk Company bringing the total number to 16 minilabs that now cover the whole country.

She said testing using minilabs was largely undertaken by pharmaceutical technicians and assistants who are fully engaged in hospitals. As a result, she said, the technicians find little time to concentrate on testing of suspected fake and substandard medicines that have been seized.

Usually under such circumstances, she explained, it takes up to three months for the collected samples to be tested which is contrary to the best practices. She was against the idea that many minilabs should be supplied throughout the country to effectively detect fake and substandard medicines saying that was not the best option. She said available minilabs should be fully utilised.

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