Despite the relentless efforts being made to forestall counterfeit drugs, unscrupulous businessmen are still chipping in; but this notwithstanding the Pharmacy Board has made great strides in recent times by apprehending and destroying counterfeit drugs valued Le 1,200,000,000 (one billion, two hundred million Leones).
This revelation was made by the Board Registrar, Wilshire Johnson during the destruction exercise of the contraband drugs, at the Kingtom dumpsite.
Wilshire Johnson said the destruction of the drugs is a summary of all the activities the Board has being engaged in “in terms of routine inspection all over the Country.”
He disclosed that during the exercise some of those found wanting were fined; while others have their licenses being revoked.
The Registrar intimated that the Ministry of Health has being very supportive in the fight against counterfeit drugs; revealing that the Board is now looking at the need to review the Pharmaceutical Act as well.
Wilshire also disclosed that they have mechanisms in pace to monitor and test drugs coming in through the Quay and the Airport.
Head of Anti-Drugs, Detective Assistant Superintendent of Police, Joseph Lahai disclosed that after arrests have being made and counterfeit drugs confiscated by the Board, he is often disappointed as the Judiciary often gives minimal fines to culprits.
He advocated for a strong and robust legal system which would ensure the enforcement of the law to the fullest in strength and spirit.
Chairman of the Board, Bassie Turay intimated that Sierra Leone depends 100% on imported drugs and as such the Country is a virgin ground for contraband drugs.
He suggested that there is need to look at the customs tariffs levied on drugs; noting that if it is cushioned it would encourage standard drugs and discouraged the illicit trade of sub-standard drugs.
Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Sheku Tejan Koroma explained that the government has done a lot in the fight against substandard drugs.He disclosed, “we have increased the budget of the Pharmacy Board to make sure that it provide quality drugs for the Country.” The Minister intimated that they have also requested for the National Revenue Authority (NRA) to provide room for drug inspection officials at official boarder entering points.
He however noted that it is not surprising to see such huge sum of substandard drugs being confiscated by the Board, arguing that this is as a result of the porous boarders. By Ophaniel Gooding