The rate at which counterfeit pharmaceutical products are flooding the market has become alarming, especially in Sub-Sahara Africa.
To combat this global menace the minister of health and sanitation, Abator Thomas, has opened the National Pharmaceutical Quality Control Laboratory (NPQCL) at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay, east of the capital.
In his remarks at the official opening ceremony of the container built laboratory, the President of the Sierra Leone Pharmaceutical Business Association Ltd. (SLPBA), Ethelbert Tejan, accentuated that the issue of counterfeit and sub-standard medical products was a global problem.
He noted that, “we wholeheartedly welcome procedures which aim at ridding the market of these products.”
Mr Tejan stressed that, “we should no longer be working in isolation. We should be complimenting each other’s efforts in this fight to curb this global menace.”
The SLPBA president explained that, “we can retrieve and burn, but we should also create alternative supply mechanisms to these service providers especially in the provincial towns and villages to ensure the delivery of safe and efficacious products in their localities.”
Mr Tejan pointed out that if such mechanisms were not put in place it would be a one step forward and two steps backward process as it would “always go back to square one.”
“We reaffirm our commitment as an association to cooperate with the board in achieving its objective”, he said noting that as stakeholders they were striving towards a common goal which was to “keep our people healthy and prosperous.”
The establishment of the lab “will contribute immensely towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), he said.
In her keynote address, the health minister maintained that counterfeit pharmaceutical products were indeed a universal threat and that there was a need to halt the influx of such products in Sierra Leone.
Mrs Abator Thomas stated that in 1998 a pharmaceutical research conducted by the Pharmacy Board revealed that 43% of pharmaceutical products were substandard or outright counterfeit.
She noted that with the mechanisms instituted by the ministry to access the quality of drugs the number had cut down drastically, noting that today it’s less than 20%.
Madame Thomas appealed to field workers of the Pharmacy Board to work professionally, and called on stakeholders at the quay to cooperate with the Board.
She assured that that the ministry of health and sanitation would always become vigilant in addressing the issue.