Dr Stephen Opuni, Chief Executive of the Food and Drugs Board has called for the facilitation of the identification of sub-standard and counterfeit products to make markets in Africa better secured from unsafe products.
He said Africa should aim at preventing the introduction of unsafe products and minimise the risk and exposure of consumers in the various countries.
The Chief Executive said this at the opening of a two-day international workshop aimed at establishing a “Networking of Drug Quality Monitoring in African Countries” in Accra.
The workshop attended by Food and Drugs authorities in Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Uganda, Ethiopia and Madagascar also had representatives from World Health Organisation, National Malaria Control Programme, Pharmacy Council, the National Drugs Programme and Pharmacopoeia Drug Quality Information Programme of the United States.
Dr Opuni noted that areas such as regulatory requirements and secure business practices, rapid alert response systems, education and public awareness as well as international collaboration as potential options to be considered for the success of the exercise.
He explained that pharmaceutical products constituted about 30 to 36 per cent of all health budget expenditure in many developing countries and governments placed high premium on policies that would ensure the availability and access to medicines at affordable prices.
He complained of the numerous tragedies associated with medicines notwithstanding their benefits which he said had resulted from the use of medicines contaminated with toxic ingredients, impurities of degradation, substandard and outright fake products.
In order to ensure the safety, quality and efficacy of medicines, key regulatory activities were therefore essential to prevent harm to patients.
Mr Paul J. Psychas, US Resident Malaria Advisor to Ghana commended Ghana for the numerous works done in raising issues on quality control and cited the problems which erupted when Artesunate Amodiaqiune was introduced and the recent interception of fake Coatem products in Kumasi.
He expressed concern about the proliferation of sub-standard medicines on the African markets and pledged USAID’s continuous support in finding a solution to the problem.
“Our support is to ensure that countries involved share and exchange experiences, as well as laboratories for testing of medicines”.
Dr Patrick Lukulay, Director of the United States Pharmacopoeia who chaired, reiterated that quality control was central and participants would come out with resolutions to promote the drug quality agenda on the continent.
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