FDA makes strides in reducing substandard and falsified antimalarials

Takoradi, Sept. 30, GNA - The Western Regional Manager of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Mr Abu Sumaila, has announced the reduction in the incidence of substandard and falsified antimalarials on the Ghanaian market from a high of about 39% in 2009 to 1.

4% as at 2018.

Mr Sumaila who made this known to GNA in an interview at the side-lines of the Western Regional launch of the Substandard and Falsified Medicines Communication Campaign, to combat substandard and falsified medicines in Ghana, hinted that about 31,000 - 116,000 persons died annually using substandard and falsified (SF) antimalarials to the tune of about US$ 38.5 million in Africa.

He indicated that research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017 estimated that one in 10 medical products in low- and middle-income countries were substandard and falsified and were considered as a multimillion-dollar business that claimed the lives of millions around the world.

He said in an effort to combat the illicit trade, the FDA with support of donor agencies like the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), the Globalfund and the WHO have been conducting market surveillance on medicines on the Ghanaian market to rid substandard and falsified medicines.

He pointed out that to consolidate the gains made, the FDA has heightened surveillance at the ports of entry leading to the seizure and safe disposal of many of such fake products.

Mr Sumaila further stated that with support from the Government of Ghana, the Authority was also working with neighbouring countries through the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO), the WHO and the International Police (Interpol) in this regard.

He said, the FDA has also constituted a 12-member Inter Agency Committee, with representation from the security services, judiciary service and other allied health agencies to provide strategies and recommendations on combating the menace of substandard and falsified medical products, including developing and maintaining a ‘Watch List’ of medical products considered to be most susceptible to counterfeiting.

However, to ascertain the extent of consumer exposure and existing information gap on substandard and falsified medicines in Ghana, the WHO in 2019 contracted "Ipsos Mori' to conduct a survey on the behaviour of the Ghanaian public towards substandard and falsified medicines.

Mr Sumaila added that the surveys conducted in all the Regions in Ghana sampled 1,031 adults aged 18 plus who were interviewed face to face in their homes, and revealed among others that 54% of participants mentioned that they were not able to determine whether the medicines they used in treating their health conditions were genuine or of good quality.

According to him, in response to the outcomes of the study, the Authority and WHO adopted a comprehensive risk communications approach, which had led to the production of radio jingles, printing of posters and the organization of a series of regional stakeholder meetings and press briefings.

He therefore called on all the stakeholders to compliment the efforts of the Authority by reporting any suspicious activity involving substandard and falsified medical products as we all seek to bring an end to the menace.