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African countries are the victim of substandard or spurious drugs, which result in life threatening issues, financial loss of consumer and manufacturer and loss in trust on health system. An international workshop hosted by the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry took place on Wednesday and Thursday September 27th and 28th probed the extent on poor quality drugs with their consequences on public health, industry and the preventive measures taken by African pharmaceutical regulatory system. Representatives of private pharmaceutical firms, government and non-government organizations, including AU Commission and UNECA gathered to discuss the preventive steps taken by governments and industries to fight against the poor quality drugs for protecting and promoting the public health and the industry.
AU Commission Trade and Industry Director, Treasure Maphanga, said that “the issue of counterfeit drugs is one of both domestic and international concern. It is shocking to realize that, in Africa, somewhere between 30 and 50 percent of drugs to treat serious diseases are actually counterfeit. And even still, it’s hard to really know the full extent of the problem.” She indicated that AU will work together with PACCI and other organizations to combat counterfeits medicines and other counterfeits in general, to protect Africa’s citizens and industries.
A representative of mPedigree, a technology company from Ghana, that developed a phone-based system called mPedigree to tackle the counterfeit drug problem, said that now is the time to stand together and get rid of this abominable practice. He explained that mPedigree protects consumers from counterfeit drugs in regions with low literacy and low technical capacity. The innovative system allows buyers to verify the authenticity of medicines for free by text-messaging a unique code found on the product to a universal number. Its founder Bright Simons is now a global icon, a recipient of many of the world’s greatest technology awards.
GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK), a British pharmaceutical company headquartered in Brentford, and Roche the Basel, Switzerland based companies also presented the technology and standards they developed to fight counterfeits.
The representative from Food Medicine Health Care Administration and Control Authority of Ethiopia, Abdella Kasso, explained the works done by his agency to prevent, detect and respond to the emergence of counterfeits and to mobilize all stakeholders, such as patients and physicians, to support the effort. He said that counterfeits drugs are seen as a growing problem, and that the government is taking the lead to fight against the sale of counterfeit drugs in Ethiopia. He indicated that Ethiopia has been working closely with neighboring countries to encourage stronger cooperation and enforcement.