12 July 2013

Ghana: FDA, Others Call On Pharmacists to Be Vigilant

The Food and Drug Authority (FDA) and Avenue Chemists have called on members of the Association of Medicine Counter Assistants (MCA), Ghana, to be vigilant in the sales of medicine to the general public, in order to avoid selling of 'fake drugs'.

According to the aforementioned bodies, the fight to eradicate fake drugs in the system could only be achieved if members of the MCA begin to see themselves as live savers.

Speaking at a workshop held in Accra yesterday, on the need for them (MCA) to be professional in delivering their services as pharmacists, Mr. Thomas Amedzro, Head of Drug Enforcement Department at FDA, noted that fighting fake drugs was meant for his outfit alone.

"You must know that you are not just in your pharmacies to do business, you hold people's lives in your hands. Take your time and go through the medicines in your shops because someone's life depends on that little inspection you will do".

Mr. Amedzro reiterated that his outfit was ready to fight the issue of fake drugs, especially with the passage of the new law by parliament, that is the Public Health Act (851)2012.

He hinted that the new law has permitted a minimum of ten years jail term for persons caught guilty of drug counterfeiting.

"Our part of the law is the part seven, for instance, we now have the legal mandate to license importers, distributors and investigate where medicines are source, so if you don't have the right condition for handling certain medicines then we will not allow you to import the medicines.

The law also allows us to monitor the mode of disposal of medicines and supervise it, we don't want people to throw medicines on refuse dumps for it go down and contaminate under ground water, every medicine is a chemical which must be dispose in an appropriate manner and the penalty aspect has also been enhanced which is detrimental enough.

Formerly the penalty was very lenient somebody can go for some fifty cedis fine but now it can even be over GH¢7000 penalty points, even though it may not stop it all, it would stop the majority", Mr. Thomas Amedzro.

Adding that, the issue of fake drugs should and must concern every Ghanaian, stressing that "all are vulnerable to taking fake drugs". To that effect, he called on all pharmacists to always report issues of fake drugs to FDA.

Adding his voice to the call for professionalism, Mr. Eric Otoo, Executive Director of Avenue Chemists, said members of MCA must place their profession above all things.

He said pharmacists should always remember that the law of the land is applicable to them and not just persons caught with fake drugs. Saying, "it is our duty to help in eradicating fake drugs".

Mr. Eric Otoo used the opportunity to caution MCA members to always take note of drugs' expiry dates, "there is no grace period after the date given for the expiration of drugs, that is why it is written 'best before the expiry date', so that if you sell an expired drug, you will pay for it".

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