The New Dawn (Monrovia)

Liberia: Don't Buy Drugs From Street Peddlers

Photo: Roger Bate
Distinguishing between a legitimate medicine (left) and an illegitimate medicine (right) takes training and specialized equipment.

The Accredited Medicine Stores (AMS) program in Liberia has seriously warned the public against buying medicines from street peddlers, who sell drugs in black bags or open buckets around Monrovia.

The AMS said most of the peddlers usually sell expired and substandard drugs that pose danger to human health. It therefore urged Liberians to buy drugs from accredited drug stores under its registry. The Accredited Medicine Stores program is a process through which operators and proprietors of pharmacies in Liberia are accredited to serve the public.

The AMS also trains medicine store owners or dispensers in proper dispensing, business and financial management, customer service as well as upgrading those premises to meet required standards.

The goal of the program is to improve access to quality essential medicines, basic care, referrals and increased pharmaceutical services for much of the population in more populated areas of Liberia.

The program, which is being funded by the Government of Liberia and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is geared at ensuring that only quality and affordable medicines are sold in standard stores or clean environments across the country.

Speaking at a news conference in Monrovia on Tuesday, the Managing Director of Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA), Mr. David Sumo, said it is common here for people to buy medicines in the streets on market tables, in open buckets or from street vendors and unregistered pharmacies.

Mr. Sumo said the AMS has trained over 500 medicines stores owners and dispensers in Montserrado County, empowering them with skills and knowledge in essential medicine procurement, storage, dispensary, business and financial management, among others. No one knows precisely how many fraudulent or substandard medicines are sold around the world, but the fragmentary data are alarming.

It is estimated that at least 100,000 people die annually around the world from health problems such as cancer, heart disease, infectious diseases and other ailments as a result of taking in substandard and fake medicines.

For example, fake malaria drugs pose a real risk of hampering the international effort to curb the disease. In wealthy nations, substandard or fraudulent drugs have caused thousands of adverse reactions and some deaths.

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