New Democrat (Monrovia)

7 February 2013

Liberia: Search for Fake Drugs

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

A major campaign to crackdown on counterfeit drugs throughout the country has come into force by the Liberia Medicine and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA).

The LMHRA has intensified its campaign to eliminate counterfeit drugs from medicine stores throughout the country under new initiative codenamed "Accredited Medicine Store (AMS) Program.

The AMS is a process of accreditation through registration, training of medicine stores owners/dispensers in proper medicines, dispensing, business and financial management and good customer services as well as upgrading the premises to meet the required standards.

Performing in close collaboration with the Pharmaceutical Board of Liberia and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the LMHRA Tuesday launched the AMS campaign aimed at improving sanitary conditions of community dwellers as well as ensuring full monitoring and evaluation of drugs sold in various medicine stores/pharmacies across Liberia.

In order to declare a medicine store AMS-qualified, the LMHRA explained that such medicine store(s) must have passed a drug evaluating laboratory test clearly determining the quality and standard of medicines being sold in those particular drug stores.

"Our main objective today is to inform you-the press and the general public of our effort to improve and sanitize the retail medicine distribution system in Liberia and also to inform you of the official launch of the Accredited Medicine Stores program in Liberia," explained Mr. David Sumo, managing director, Liberia Medicine and Health Products Regulatory Authority.

"It is common in Liberia, for our people to buy medicines in the streets, on the market tables, in open buckets from street vendors or from unregistered medicine stores and pharmacies," Sumo lamented, and warned:

"This has been a cause of serious harm to health and sometimes deaths among our people, creating undue pressure to the healthcare delivery system of the country as most of the medicines acquired from these sources are either fake or poor quality."

As a consequence of the negative impact created by the sale of illicit drugs in some medicine stores, Mr. Sumo further warned that the new initiative also aims at revoking certificates of counterfeit medicine stores.

He said such drastic actions would be taken especially in the case where the LMHRA discovers that a particular medicine store is deliberately selling fake drugs having inherent danger to the community.

Meanwhile, Mr. Sumo said efforts were underway to certificate some 100 medicine stores that have met the LMHRA's regulations and standards, and urged would-be violators to beware the consequences of abusing the AMS' new guidelines.

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