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PSGH Pushes for restrictions in drug importation

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) is pushing for more restrictions on the importation of drugs into the country to boost the local manufacturing industry and safeguard public health and safety.

Vice President of the PSGH, Yvonne Yirenkyiwaa Esseku, argued that while government must be commended for banning the import of 49 drugs and reserving the quota for local manufacturers, an expansion of the list was essential to grow the local industry.

“We urge government to consider expanding the list to other molecules and some essential medicines with particular emphasis on generic medicines for which more than five local manufacturers have the capacity to produce.

“We hold that these restrictions will increase the market size for local manufacturers, improve local manufacturing capability and capacity and reduce the exchange rate pressure on the local currency while protecting domestic health and safety,” she maintained.

Ms Esseku was speaking at the launch of this year’s World Pharmacists Day (WPD) in Accra yesterday on the theme; “Safe and Effective Medicines for all.”

The Day is marked globally each year to recognise the critical role of pharmacists in improving quality healthcare delivery.

According to the Pharmacist, there was the need for government to strategically invest in the local pharmaceutical manufacturing space if Ghana is to ensure long term security of making medicines available and accessible to citizens.

Furthermore, Ms Esseku called for the incorporation of community pharmacists into the broader healthcare structure as they had over the years contributed significantly to the overall primary care delivery of the country.

“Community pharmacists have the potential to not only contribute to improving patients’ outcomes through safe and effective use of drugs but also to reduce the cost of healthcare by resolving medicines-related problems and promoting public health issues at the basic level,” she stated.

Pledging the Society’s resolve to guarantee safe and effective medicines for public use, Ms Esseku also asked Ghanaians to “take responsibility of their health” and buy medicines only from pharmacists and licensed chemical sellers.

Deputy Minister of Health, Mr Alexander Kom Abban in a remark indicated that the theme for the WPD commemoration resonated with the Ministry’s vision to ensure access to safe and effective medicines as part of the country’s overall strategy to achieve universal health coverage (UHC).

To this end, he charged all pharmacists to re-examine their role in the health value chain to effectively address the health needs of Ghanaians.

“Globally, the traditional role of pharmacists has shifted from product oriented to patient-centred care and as such pharmacists all over the world are now recognised for playing important roles in reducing patient medication errors and the Ghanaian pharmacist is no exception,” he indicated.

Recounting the harm often caused to patients due to inaccurate advice on medications and the resulting effects on the country’s human resource, development and economic growth, Mr Abban urged the PSGH to collaborate with other healthcare professionals to develop and implement strategies to optimise patient health outcomes by tailoring pharmaceutical care to individual needs.

It would be recalled that in May 2017, government barred the importation of 49 medicines including aluminium hydroxide or magnesium trisilicate suspension, amoxicillin capsules and suspension, aspirin or caffeine tablet, folic acid tablet, cetirizine tablet, co-trimoxazole tablet, diclofenac tablet, magnesium trisilicate suspension and tablet and oral rehydration salt (ORS).

Others are paracetamol syrup, paracetamol tablet, paracetamol or codeine tablet, simple linctus syrup, vitamin B complex tablet and multivitamin tablets (vitamins A acetate, B1, B2, B12, D3, nicotinimie, calcium pantothenate), Ibrufen tablet and cough mixture that contains carbocisteine diphengydramine, gualfenesin or ammonium chloride as a single ingredient.

The move was to make way for local manufacturing companies to produce such medicines to improve health outcomes and realise direct and indirect economic benefits.

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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