Ethiopian Food, Medicine & Healthcare Administration & Control Authority (FMHACA) has added 130 drugs to the National Drug List (NDL) over the past eight months. The list now comprises of a total of 1,185.
The number of drugs on the national list has been expanding since 2010, when a total of 15 drugs were added. In 2011, this amount raised dramatically, with 405 new aditions. The list was also expanded further, by 446 in 2012 and 49 in 2013, according to a data from the FMHACA.
Anti-tubercular, antibacterial, anti-infective, anti-ulcer and antilipemic agents to treat tuberculosis, bacterial infections, gastro-intestinal diseases and heart related diseases are among the new entrants to the list.
The Authority uses the parameters of medical practices and premises, including healthcare facilities, food establishments, medical facilities and health related port inspection sites. It has also used the yardsticks of health professionals that deal with the product from production up to consumption, medical equipment and devices, and food and food supplements.
The authority initially considers a drug for the national list when requested to do so by different bodies, such as importers, the Pharmaceutical Fund & Supply Agency (PFSA) and producers. Following the request, it conducts tests on a sample of the drugs, the output of which determines its fate. The Authority licenses the producer of the product, so that the drug can be usable in the country for a minimum of four years - the license period.
"But, this license could be rescinded if using products of that company result in any problems," according to Debalke Fantaw, Regulatory Information Development & Dissemination team coordinator.
The Authority used to control the price of drugs along with the quality of the products, which it has ceased to do at present, according to Debalke.
"We create access to importers of drugs and the price is up to them, as we are in a competitive market system," he said. "But it will give the consumers different options."
There are various reasons for the country to include different drugs on its list, according to experts in the field.
"Many drugs become resistant to diseases through time, making them redundant in the market," says Anteneh Tesfaye, a pharmacist at Debre Markos University. "Therefore, the country needs to have new options to replace them."
The improvement of a drug, in terms of technology, will also lead to its being included. In every generation of a medicine, the side effects and dosage are improved, according to the expert.
Anteneh also doubts the impact the drug list and the importation of the medicines will have on prices.
"Different people choose to use different brand medicines, which also differ in price," he told Fortune. "Therefore, if one wants to buy a Paracetamol from India, he pays two Br and from Germany he could pay 10 Br."
Among the list of countries producing the newly listed drugs are - India with 58 drugs, Germany with 15 drugs, Cyprus with nine and China with eight. Drugs from Malaysia, the UK, Jordan and Slovenia are also included in the list. There are 300 drug importers in Ethiopia registered to import those included in the national list.