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Fake drugs flood market

Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has issued a fresh alert over the circulation of counterfeit drugs which could compromise treatment of worm infestation.
The warning comes after the FDA identified a batch of Vermox as having failed efficacy and safety tests.
In a move that is seen as a response to a widespread problem, the FDA earlier in the week released a list of pharmaceutical companies selling fake Vermox drugs and has since cautioned consumers to be watchful when making drug purchases.
Speaking to the B&FT, the Head, Drug Enforcement Department of FDA, Thomas Amedzro, said that their attention was drawn in 2013 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that fake Vermox – a drug for the treatment of worm infestation – had been detected in Angola, and as such Ghana should be on the alert.
“It started in 2013 when we got an alert from the WHO that fake Vermox drugs had been detected in Angola.
“They said they found one batch, but when we carried out our investigation here we even detected two extra batches. So we checked with the manufacturers and they told us the fake drugs batch was manufactured that same year 2013 and due to expire in 2017. However, the original batch was manufactured in 2009 and was not even brought to Africa. It was supplied only in France, and aside from that all their African drugs expire after 3 years. So at that time we did a press release to alert the public, and we prosecuted some people as well,” he said.
According to Mr Amedzro, the latest case of fake Vermox drugs was detected by hired agents from the original manufacturers – who, after thorough investigations, found that their product had been counterfeited. A report was made for the FDA to take further action.
“The FDA then followed up and found one retailer who said he gets his supply from another person; so he led us to him and we arrested him. The man is a Togolese national who claims he gets his supply from Nigeria. We retrieved 21 cartons containing 120 packets of Vermox each,” he said.
He further said that the packaging of both the fake product and the original were hard to identify, and had to be taken to the original manufacturer for further scrutiny.
However, the original manufacturer also could not spot any difference in the packaging and did a laboratory analysis of the product. The results proved that the content of the fake drugs lacked active ingredients, meaning the drug is not toxic but cannot perform the function for which it was manufactured.
The Head of the Unit cautioned Ghanaians to be very vigilant about every medicine they buy, since imitators have found the business very lucrative and are investing heavily in it.  He called on the general public to report any case of suspicious fake drugs they come across.
“We always advise that anytime you are buying a drug, check some key features of the package. The font, the colour, the spelling, a proper manufacturers’ address.
“If you don’t have the address of the manufacturer, that alone should be enough to raise a red flag. Then those who are on chronic medication who use their drugs regularly must endeavour to keep an original sample of the package, so that they can always compare to know if there are any variations. We also encourage the public to report any slightest variation they see in any product,” he said.
He added that any pharmacy found in the possession of fake drugs will face sanctions from both the FDA and the court.
“The sanctions include name and shame; whereby the name of the company is published for all to see so that people will know that you are dealing in fake drugs. The law also gives us the mandate to charge administrative fees and the minimum is GH¢25,000. We can also take you to court and have you prosecuted – resulting in a minimum custodial sentence of not less than 15 years or a fine of GH¢90,000, or both. And your products will be seized and destroyed at cost to you,” he said.
A statement by the FDA shows the fake Vermox tablets have the following batch numbers: DALOX00, CIL8J01, DBL4G01, DHL2Z00, and BU1V01.
Source: B&FT

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