Editor's Comment

Take medicine seriously

THERE is no argument that medicines are given to patients to treat or prevent illnesses.
And this is why in a case where one drug has failed to improve a patient’s health condition, a qualified medical person will recommend an alternative drug.
Pharmaceutical companies have, to a great extent, contributed to the improvement of healthcare delivery by providing a variety of drugs for the treatment of a number of diseases.
However, the expansion of the industry has also brought with it an increase in hazards, error and adverse events associated with medicinal use.
According to the World Health Organisation, drugs should be safe to use and where this safety is lacking, the drugs are immediately withdrawn from the public domain.
The safety of any patient ranks highest in the use of drugs and that is why the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority, (ZAMRA) has acted by ordering all health facilities and pharmacies to stop giving ranitidine to patients for heartburn.
Ranitidine, sold under the trade name of Zantac, is a drug which decreases stomach acid production and it is commonly used in the treatment of gastric ulcers.
ZAMRA director-general Bernice Mwale, who made the order, said the drug should be immediately quarantined until further notice and she advised all those who were taking the medication to stop and visit their physician or pharmacist for further guidance.
The decision to order against the dispensing of ranitidine comes after ZAMRA learnt from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other global regulators that some Renitidine hydrochloride tablets, including branded and generic formulations, contain a nitrosamine impurity called N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a classified probable human carcinogen.
ZAMRA’s decision is commendable because it shows that the institution seeks to uphold its tenets and safeguard the safety of individuals.
By its main objective, ZAMRA seeks to ensure that all medicines and allied substances being made available to the Zambian people consistently meet the set standards of quality, safety and efficacy.
In the absence of ZAMRA, there is a high likelihood that individuals may be exposed to toxic substances that may be contained in some of the drugs in circulation.
It should be recognised that pharmaceutical industries may seek to serve their own interests which may be at variance with the interests of ZAMRA, as the case is with ranitidine.
And so it is for this reason that ZAMRA should always remain on the lookout for any such variances to protect the general population from the dangers that are imminent in some of the drugs that appear on our market.
In fact, with the increase of pharmaceutical industries, whether they be local or foreign, ZAMRA needs to intensify its efforts in scouring the market to ensure that the drugs placed in the public arena meet the highest safety standards, as prescribed by the World Health Organisation ( WHO).
The proliferation of pharmacies in our townships has also made matters worse because drugs are easily available without prescription from qualified doctors.
That is why individuals should support ZAMRA as it seeks to serve and protect the public interest in all matters relating to the sale of medicines and allied substances.

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