Editor's Comment

All drugs must be tested

BEFORE the decentralisation of Medical Stores Limited (MSL), drug stock-outs in public medical facilities was routine.However, MSL has opened centres in most of the provincial headquarters and this has curbed the erratic supply of drugs.
The liberalisation of the economy has seen an upsurge in the establishment of pharmaceutical firms and pharmacies to complement Government’s efforts in delivering health care service to citizens.
However, Government’s gesture of allowing private entities to run pharmaceutical concerns is being abused.
As a result, there are a lot of counterfeit, expired, substandard and adulterated medicines, especially in the country.
These drugs may cause deadly consequences on our people.
Unsuspecting patients may be exposed to counterfeit, expired, substandard and indeed adulterated drugs, especially antibiotics, which could result into resistance which could be due to low amounts of active ingredients in the tablets.
This could be worse for diabetic patients taking drugs and the sugar is not coming down. We could lose such patients.
Therefore, for public safety, there is need for close monitoring on what our communities are taking.
Patients should be encouraged to be getting their medicines from registered premises with qualified pharmacists.
We therefore commend the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) for partnering with U.S. Pharmacopeia Convention, a United States of America (USA)-based non-governmental organisation, to enhance inspections and testing of drugs on the market.
ZAMRA will tap into Pharmacopeia Convention’s modern technological gadgets to detect substandard and falsified medicines.
We are glad that ZAMRA has raised the bar in executing its mandate by ensuring that counterfeit, expired, substandard and adulterated medicines have no space in Zambia.
ZAMRA is not only conforming to international standards but performing its national social responsibility by providing internal quality control for all goods [including drugs] coming into the country and also those being manufactured in the country.
This will ensure that all goods are of high standards and the citizens are protected from fake, low standards and unhealthy drugs.
Keeping good health is living a good life.
If medicines are not tested, some may be substandard while others may be poisonous and injurious to the body system.
Therefore, to avoid untimely deaths, all medicines must pass through the drug agency of all countries.
We hope that ZAMRA will roll out the testing machines to all parts of the country, especially in border towns where these drugs enter from.
ZAMRA should also escalate sensitisation campaigns to ensure that as many people as possible understand the danger of either self-prescription or accessing drugs from authorised dealers.
ZAMRA should partner with like-minded institutions such as the Health Professions Council of Zambia, which recently revoked the operating licence of a top hospital in Lusaka for allegedly endangering lives of patients by dispensing expired drugs.
The Zambia Bureau of Standards and the Zambia Revenue Authority, which monitor products that come into the country, should be targeted for collaboration.
Schools, cooperatives and markets may also be ideal platforms for ZAMRA to spread the message on the need for citizens to desist from self-prescription and to buy medicines only from designated drugstores.

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