The Government Analyst Food and Drugs Department (GA-FDD) will soon be engaged in a strategic collaboration with the Regional Medicine Surveillance Department in Jamaica to conduct an assessment on Guyana’s medical industry. This tactical move comes as a fervent bid by the public health sector to crackdown on pharmaceutical fraud in the local market and to help bolster patients’ safety.
At least this is according to Minister of Public Health, Ms. Volda Lawrence.
This approach is about to materialise even as the Food and Drug Department probes a recent report of a barrage of counterfeit medications on the local market. The Ministry of Public Health, according to the Minister, is at the same time looking to pharmacists to help keep at bay the infiltration of these counterfeit products.
Speaking to a gathering of pharmacists recently, the Minister said that that phoney drugs, medicines and pharmaceuticals comprise some 10 percent of exports to the sub-sector in low and middle-income countries.
With the bourgeoning of counterfeit drugs globally, she reiterated the need for greater ‘pharmacovigilance’ among local healthcare practitioners to help spot and remove the bogus items from the supply chain of the local market.
“Failure to do so will compromise your integrity and defeat your purpose as medicines experts. Keep your ears attuned to complaints of medication not working effectively, presentation of adverse effects, investigate and help monitor the performance of drugs. Verify if the certificates of authorisation are in place. Give support to the Food and Drugs Department,” she urged.
The Minister went on to examine the rationale behind the World Health Organisation (WHO’)s 2013 launch of the Global Surveillance and Monitoring system, even as she reminded that countries are encouraged to report falsified medical products in order to help develop a more accurate and validated assessment of the emerging and troubling problem.
She added, “The patients’ expectation of you as a pharmacists expands far beyond the product-oriented functions of distributing and dispensing medicines and health supplies. You are considered and seen as the main care-provider, as a counsellor, as an adviser, depending on the scenario.”
In the health sector’s pecking order, pharmacists usually play second fiddle to physicians being lost sometimes in the shadows of anonymity. But Lawrence challenged them to find creative ways to overcome these challenges.
“You have earned the right to be recognised as qualified practitioners as you now possess the requisite expertise and knowledge to influence the way pharmaceutical care evolves in our country. You are the trustees of the array of safe and effective medicines that would allow our citizens to derive optimum benefits from their use. I urge you therefore to use this responsibility with dignity, professionalism and ethical fortitude,” Minister Lawrence said.