Western Regional Manager of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Mr Abu Sumaila has disclosed that about 31,000 – 116,000 persons die annually using substandard and falsified (SF) antimalarials to the tune of about US$ 38.5 million in Africa.
He indicated that a research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017 estimates that 1 in 10 medical products in low and middle income countries were substandard and falsified and were considered as a multimillion-dollar business that claims the lives of millions around the world.
Mr Sumaila who made this known to Newsghana in an interview at the sidelines of the Western Regional launch of the Substandard and Falsified Medicines Communication Campaign to combat substandard and falsified medicines in Ghana said the FDA has observed a reduction in the incidence of substandard and falsified antimalarials in the Ghanaian market from a high of about 39% in 2009 to 1.4% as at 2018.
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 it of substandard and falsified medicines.
He pointed out that to consolidate the gains made, the FDA has heightened surveillance at the ports of entry which has led to the seizure and safe disposal of many of such fake products and with support from Government the FDA was also working with neighboring countries through the West africa Health Organization (WAHO), the WHO and the International Police (Interpol) in this regard.
“Additionally, 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”, he stated.
He said, 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+ 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 the WHO have adopted a comprehensive risk communications approach which has led to the production of radio jingles, printing of posters and the organization of a series of regional stakeholder meetings and press briefings.
Against this backdrop, he appealed to all the stakeholders to support the FDA by reporting any suspicious activities involving substandard and falsified medical products as we seek to bring an end to the menace.