Coun­ter­feit medicines still a threat

East African Business Week - - LETTERS/PERSPECTIVE -

Ed­i­tor,

The re­cent meet­ing in­volv­ing East African phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and UN agen­cies raised many im­por­tant points.

Over de­pen­dence on im­ports is seen as a ma­jor chal­lenge and I agree, but in your report not much was said about the threat of coun­ter­feits to our peo­ple.

Re­gional stan­dards bu­reaus are play­ing a vi­tal role in lim­it­ing this men­ace, but I also be­lieve that those who know­ingly im­port these drugs must be given se­vere pun­ish­ments. Re­mem­ber hu­man lives are at stake here.

And let us also not for­get that coun­ter­feit medicines can be made lo­cally and not al­ways im­ported di­rectly.

That said I sup­port lo­cal drugs makes be given as much pref­er­ence as pos­si­ble. We can learn from other coun­tries. In­dia for ex­am­ple made it a pri­or­ity to be as self-suf­fi­cient in ba­sic drugs as pos­si­ble. To­day, the In­di­ans are lead­ing ex­porters of generic drugs be­cause they have steadily built up a strong lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing and re­search base.

This raises the point of ac­cept­ing whole­sale do­na­tions of medicines from for­eign donors with­out con­sid­er­ing the full im­pli­ca­tions. Are we not ac­cept­ing de­pen­dency, be­cause users may not be able to take any­thing else?

How­ever, lo­cal man­fac­tur­ers have to step up by con­stantly ad­her­ing to the re­quired stan­dards. Once that is set­tled then con­sumers will be re­as­sured.

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