Stiffer Punishment For Fake Medicine Traffickers

The participants in a group photograph after the opening ceremony

Stakeholders at a two-day forum on counterfeit medicine trafficking have called for stricter punishment for offenders.

According to them, the punishment of a jail term is not harsh enough to stop offenders from engaging in the illicit trade.

They recommended the additional confiscation of the culprits’ properties, which they believe would deter others from engaging in the illegal business that have dire consequences on human health.

Dr Akwesi Osei, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mental Health Authority, who initiated the call, said, “Our laws are not strict enough, we should be able to confiscate properties of traffickers in addition to the jail term to act as deterrent.”

Dr Osei made the call at the forum themed: ‘Effective Strategies For Countering Counterfeit Drugs & Substance Abuse’.

The meeting, which was organised by the Food & Drugs Authority (FDA), in collaboration with the Conference of Western Attorney General and the Africa Alliance Partnership (AAP), was aimed at developing a national strategy to curb the abuse of substances, especially Tramadol, and also sharing experiences to reduce the menace of counterfeit drugs in the country.

Making a presentation on the effect of fake medicines, Dr Osei disclosed that out of the 300,000 patients who visited mental health institutions last year, 10,000 were drug abuse-related issues.

He said if the country is to win the fight against drug abuse, there should be a drug rescheduling programme that will specifically distinguish the drugs and who can prescribe them, as well as the establishment of treatment centres to care for those who have become addicted.

In his remarks, Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman-Manu stated that government has taken steps to ensure the improved health of citizens.

He said the launch of the anti-microbial policy and national action plan and the soon-to-be launched medicine policy will deepen the effort of government towards combating the menace.

Mr Agyeman-Manu, however, called for a multi-sectorial cooperation among stakeholders in curbing the menace.

“Combating counterfeit medicines and drug abuse is everyone’s responsibility, from government, industry, policy makers, civil society, media and right down to individual consumers,” he added.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FDA, Delese Mimi Darko, disclosed that the recent scourge in the country is the abuse of Tramadol and codeine and to curb it requires efforts by all stakeholders.

She urged participants to take active part in the workshop as the information shared will go a long way to cement the collective corroborative strategy to make Ghana unpalatable destination for dealers in falsified medicines.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri