Mr Benjamin Kwarteng Frimpong, the Upper East Regional Manager of the Pharmacy Council of Ghana has attributed the increasing rate of tramadol abuse among the youth in the Region to lack of inspecting Pharmacists.
He said monitoring was a big challenge because there were about 320 Over The Counter Medicines Sellers (OTCMS), and about 22 community Pharmacists.
He disclosed that “our main challenge has to do with staffing. Currently I am the only Inspecting Pharmacist in the region, we used to be two in Tamale, but the other one resigned and I was posted here.”
“Pharmacy is a special area that any person can take to the field. We have had issues in times past, and even with the recruitment of the NABCO personnel, we are being very selective as to who to put on board.”
The Regional Manager said regulatory compliance was an issue in the region, and indicated that “last year, as many as 11 OTCMS practitioners and about six pharmacies, were fined for violating various provisions of the health professions regulatory body’s Act. Among these was tramadol abuse in the region.”
Mr Frimpong said this when he spoke briefly on the state of his outfit’s operations in the region at a stakeholder engagement with the Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman- Manu, during his two-day tour of health facilities and institutions in the region.
He said tramadol was available in OTCMS shops in the region and going through the daily sales record books, it even captured that as early as 10 am, a facility in Navrongo, had sold over 15 blisters of tramadol.”
Mr Frimpong disclosed that what was currently being done was that tramadol was being sold but were not being recorded, indicating that, the medicines were still on sale.”
He said tramadol abuse in the region transcended beyond the youth to children and the aged.
He expressed worry that some tramadol prescriptions were from health facilities for mild pains that could easily be managed with other pain relievers.
“The tramadol dependence is on the upsurge now in the region and we need to do something about it.” he added.