The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has seized a large quantity of unlicensed and fake drugs from several shops and pharmacies in the West Mamprusi Municipality of the North East Region. The Authority is carrying out a surveillance operation in the region to get rid of contraband drugs and unlicensed pharmaceutical products from the market.
The exercise led by the Regional Head of the Authority, Martin Kusi, was conducted in Walewale, Gbimsi, Wulugu and Kpasenkpe. Prominent among the fake products that were seized from the shops included a popular painkiller "Really Extra", a falsified Indian drug smuggled from Nigeria and Benin.
At Gbimsi, the team seized two boxes filled with contraband drugs from one chemical shop. The shop owner, a staff of the Nalerigu Baptist Medical Center, could not produce proper receipts for the drugs. According to him, he purchased them from dealers in Tamale and Bawku.
But the shop operator was not only selling contraband drugs, the officials found him misapplying his licence to operate an OTC.
He was operating within the premises of the community CHPs facility and admitting patients. He attempted to bribe the officials to shield his clandestine operations.
The operation ended in the municipal capital, Walewale, where over five chemical shops were visited.
"We have confiscated a lot of these contraband. This is what we will do for the public to understand what they are supposed to buy and what they are not supposed to buy," Martin Kusi said.
He continued that, "we warned and then cautioned the chemical sellers to make sure that they stock products that are registered in Ghana not products that come through unapproved routes".
Mr. Kusi also indicated that the chemical shop owner who was caught abusing his licensed will be reported to the Pharmacy Council.
"With FDA, we deal with the product then Pharmacy Council will deal with the practice. So the Council would have to come in with the lapses in the practice and FDA will also have to deal with him as far as the contraband are concerned".
According to the Authority, most of these unlicensed drugs are being smuggled into the country from Nigeria through numerous unapproved routes.
As part of efforts to cut the illegal supply chain of smuggling of contraband drugs into the region, the FDA is establishing satellite stations in border communities.
The Authority has however asked the Regional Security Council to do more by ensuring improved border security.
"The Food and Drugs Authority is planning to have a station at Bunkprugu border post. Very soon, I hope by 2022, to make sure that some of these do not enter. Because the borders are porous, most people use unapproved routes, so what we have to do is to make sure that we intensify our market surveillance activities."
The Regional Director, therefore, called for support from residents in the region.
"We want the support from the general public. Anything that is happening in your locality that you are suspicious about, I think you can quickly inform the FDA and then quickly within 24hrs, we will be there to ascertain the veracity of the issues."
The FDA exist to ensure the safety, quality and efficacy of human and veterinary drugs, food, biological products, cosmetics, medical devices, household chemical substances and clinical trials, and the control of tobacco products through the enforcement of relevant standards to protect public health.