MP urges security agencies to double efforts in tackling fake drugs
He said this should be done before the canker exacted a negative impact on the economy and health delivery system of Ghana.
He said recent reports of the import of counterfeit medicines into the country and the subsequent supply of those fake drugs to healthcare facilities by three major pharmaceutical companies was a wake-up call for stakeholders to address the issue critically and “tackle it heads on”.
Mr Chireh, who is also the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, made the appeal at a two-day national workshop on counterfeit and substandard drug trade in Ghana in Accra on Wednesday.
He said the recent surge in the use of counterfeit medicines was rather serious and dangerous and held grave consequences on the country’s public health.
Mr Chireh said it was not the lack of laws to combat the menace but the challenge of enforcement that had exacerbated the situation, with the consequential punitive sanctions not deterrent enough to mitigate the problem.
The MP identified the insurgence of technology that enabled the purchasing of medicines on the internet, making the problem more complex, insisting that stakeholders made the necessary interventions to get abreast with technological advancement to manage the issue well.
He, thus, implored the law enforcement agencies to “sit up” and where there were loopholes within the law, the necessary proposals should be recommended to Parliament for the necessary legislative measure.
Mr Chireh gave the assurance that the legislative committee on health would support fully measures aimed at eradicating the menace, adding; “we are ever ready to do our duty to assist effect the necessary amendments to our laws if the need be”.
Mr Chireh also promised that members of the Committee would initiate the needed responsiveness to the issue and exact its oversight role on agencies mandated to tackle the problem.
According to the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) 60 percent of pharmaceutical products imported into the country were counterfeits or substandard.
Over 700,000 people are killed yearly in developing countries through the use of fake drugs in curing tuberculosis and malaria. Nearly half of these drugs are found in Ghana, Nigeria and Congo. They originate mainly from Asia and parts of the sub region.
The FDA, last month, sanctioned three pharmaceutical companies for importing substantial quantities of counterfeit medicines into the country. Some of the medicines were traced to the store of health institutions across the country.
The health ministry has made known its intention to blacklist those and other pharmaceuticals found to indulge in that vice.