11 November 2010 | Angeline Albert
Procurement staff in Ghana’s hospitals and
pharmacies have been told to be more vigilant about fake anti-malarial
counterfeit versions of 13 anti-malarial drugs were uncovered in hospitals and
pharmacies across the country by the Medicines Quality Monitoring Surveillance
The discovery of counterfeit drugs in use at a government-run hospital
and private clinic, and being distributed through many pharmacies, has resulted
in a nationwide recall of all 13 substances, including publicising the names of
the outlets where they were found.
The Ghana Food and Drugs Board (FDB) said
publicising the names of the outlets “is intended as a strong deterrent, making
pharmacy and hospital procurement personnel more vigilant about their
Patrick Lukulay is director of
the Promoting the Quality of Medicines initiative which aims to improve the
safety of medicines in 28 countries, and is working with the FDB.
He said: “The fact that the fake
and poor quality drugs were so widespread - found in many areas across Ghana,
and in many types of outlets - underscores the need not only for continuing
surveillance but also for active enforcement of anti-counterfeiting laws. The
existence of many more substandard and counterfeit medications for other types
of medicines and in other locations and facilities must be assumed.
“Public education and official
collaborations between public and private sectors are both essential to
protecting public health here in Ghana and in many other developing nations.”
The fake and substandard medicines were found in just one round of
post-market surveillance of anti-malarial drugs. Some of the medication
discovered contained no active pharmaceutical ingredient, while others failed
to meet required quality standards.
Stephen Opuni, chief executive
officer of the FDB, said: “This causes great harm in two ways: the individual
patients taking the drugs get no relief, and drug-resistant strains of malaria
may grow stronger. In addition, people lose confidence in the efficacy of
medicines and may be reluctant to seek medical help when they need it.”
The FDB is calling on the manufacturers of some of the recalled
medications to meet with them with a view to imposing tighter regulations.