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LMHRA MD Discloses Outcomes From WA-MRH 11th Steering Committee Meeting

LMHRA MD Pharmacist Keturah C. Smith-Chineh & Nigeria Regulatory Authority DG (left) Group Picture (Right)

(Monrovia- June 1, 2022):  The Managing Director of the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) Managing Director, Pharmacist Keturah C. Smith-Chineh (Mrs.), recently attended the 11th West Africa Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (WA-MRH) Initiative Steering Committee Meeting; where several issues about the regulatory harmonization of medicines were discussed.

The 11th WA-MRH Steering Committee Meeting which was held in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast, from the 29th to the 30th of April 2022, brought together heads of the 15 West African Regulatory Authority on Medicines.

According to the LMHRA Managing Director, the rationale for the 11th WA-MRH Steering Committee Meeting was to capitalize on the various efforts of the 15 West African nation’s regulatory harmonization of medicines (MRH) as well as for greater collaboration and coordination, among the West African Health Organization (WAHO) and the West African Economic Monetary Union (WAEMU).

It can be recalled that both institutions agreed that the management of regulatory harmonization of medicines for the entire region is under the control of WAHO, with continued collaboration from WAEMU.

Managing Director Smith-Chineh in her briefing disclosed that the two organizations also decided to set up a Joint Steering Committee for the initiative to ensure effective and transparent implementation of the regulatory harmonization process.

Furthermore, the LMHRA Managing Director indicated that the meeting was also geared toward supportive efforts from the region about the WA-MRH Project launched on November 27, 2017, in Accra, Ghana; with funding from the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) through technical and financial support from the World Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa Development (AUDA-NEPAD), the World Health Organization and Swissmedic.

The WA-MRH Project covered the 15 West African member states o ECOWAS and was implemented by WAH, O, UEMOA, and member countries, as a complement to the Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (MRH) component of the Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend (SWEDD) project.

Accordingly, Managing Director Smith-Chineh noted that the achievements and gains of the WA-MRH Project included but were not limited to the 15 members’ countries agreeing to use the adopted ECOWAS harmonized Common Technical Document the (CTD), the establishment of seven Experts Working Groups (EWGs) to provide technical support to the WA-MRH Initiative, development of 133 regional harmonized Guidelines, approval of medicines the through established regional procedure, Joint Assessment of medicines skiers and Joint Good Manufacture Practice (GMP) inspection of pharmaceutical companies that submitted applications for regional marketing authorization and development of ECOWAS Regional Pharmaceutical Policy and Regulations.

Pharmacist Smith-Chineh also disclosed that the 11th meeting of the WA-MRH Project Steering Committee which was held in Abidjan, from the 29th to the 30th of April, provided an opportunity to review events at the meeting and seek the endorsement of reports and medical products recommended by the EWGs as well as propose the next step or way forward.

The role of the Steering Committee of the WA-MRH initiative includes: providing strategic and policy direction; approving technical documents and ensuring the proper implementation of the activities of the initiative.

Managing Director Smith-Chineh further asserted that the 11th Steering Committee Meeting was about the WA-MRH current initiative’s as it relates to the operating rules which state that the committee should meet quarterly each year (two emergency meetings and two general meetings) to decide on the implementation of the initiative and provide strategic direction on the way forward.

Hence, the outcomes of the 11th SC meeting included: the assessment of the level of implementation of the recommendations made at the last SC meeting held on the 14th of December 2021; the level of implementation of the project to date as presented and discussed; available medicines applications endorsed to enable countries to take appropriate decision for in-country Market Authorizations (MAs); the e-CTD development of medical products submissions at the regional and national level be reviewed and regional and national assessment timelines matrix be adopted.

The WA-MRH Steering Committee meeting was formulated to appraise the West Africa Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (WA-MRH)-related activities in the region and provide the necessary guidance for more efficiency.

The African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (AMRH) Initiative is an attempt by the African Union to strengthen regulatory capacity, encourage harmonization of regulatory requirements, and expedite access to good quality, safe, and effective medicines.

The initiative is implemented as part of the African Union’s Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA); a policy framework to provide an enabling regulatory environment for local production and contribute to the Universal Health Care (UHC), AU Agenda 2063, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The AMRH initiative is as well implemented in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). It covers more than 85% of the Sub-Saharan African countries which are at different levels of its implementation. To address the problem of non-coherent medicines laws in African countries, the AMRH Initiative developed a Model Law on medical product regulations to ensure effective regulation and promotion of harmonization.

The model law which among other things promotes the establishment of autonomous agencies; was adopted by the AU Assembly in January 2016 and has been domesticated by more than 12 of the AU Member States. Since 2014, eleven regional centers of regulatory excellence have been designated 2014 to provide coordinated and structured regulatory science training programs using the existing academic institutions in partnership with regulatory agencies.

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LMHRA Opens Regional Offices At Border Points Across Liberia

To Combat Substandard & Falsified Medicines From Entering Liberia:

As the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA), strives to ensure that Substandard and Falsified (SF) Medicines do not enter the borders of Liberia; the authority has moved swiftly by establishing offices at key border points across the country.

So far, LMHRA has divided the country into five parts, thereby opening sub-offices in three of the five regions identified. Currently, the authority has its presence at the nation’s international airport, the Roberts International Airport (RIA), and that office controls Montserrado, Margibi, and Grand Bassa Counties.  Region two which comprises Bong, Nimba, and Lofa Counties, and has its office stationed at the Ganta-Guinea Border in Nimba County.

At the same time, LMHRA has also established its Region Three office at the Liberia-Sierra Leone border post, situated at Bo-Waterside in Grand Cape Mount County. Region Three office is responsible for Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, and Gbarpolu Counties.

Speaking at the official opening of the region’s two offices, LMHRA Managing Director, Pharmacist Keturah Smith-Chineh, warned the public to stop buying medicines from those selling medicines in buckets, on open market tables, and back bags. While at the same time, she admonished pharmacies and medicines store owners to seek approval from the authority before importing medicines into Liberia.

The newly-opened LMHRA Regional office in Nimba County will serve the three counties. The office seeks to ensure that substandard and counterfeit medicines are not smuggled into the country through the Ganta-Guinea border as well as other porous border points in the central-northern region of Liberia.

As part of efforts to decentralize LMHRA activities throughout Liberia, Managing Director Smith-Chineh is ensuring that the LMHRA’s mandate is felt throughout the country through the establishment of offices in the various regions of Liberia.

“If we relaxed, those that sell substandard and falsified medicines or those that sell in buckets will always try to come through our porous borders. But inasmuch we can be stationed to the main border and make our presence felt at those various porous border points, we believe those results we anticipate will yield fruits in the coming years,” Managing Director Smith-Chineh emphasized.

Madam Smith-Chineh also praised the Joint Security actors for collaborating with the LMHRA to prevent the entry of substandard and falsified medicines into the country.

According to her, due to the collaboration with the Joint Security actors and the Liberia Revenue Authority, there is a drastic reduction in the proliferation of substandard and falsified medicines, while at the same time, the country is being free of poisonous medicines and those selling medicines in buckets and streets corners are being deterred from selling to citizens of the country.

 She added: “Not only at the Ganta border, initially when were we situated in Bong County, also received similar reception from joint security actors and the local county authority. So it shows that Liberians are ready to take their health into their own hands.”

Also speaking, the representative of the joint security at the Ganta-Guinea border, Officer Nohn Tensonen, also vowed to double their efforts in working with the staff of the LMHRA to guide the borders against any illegal entry of substandard and falsified medicines entering the country.

“We will be there for you people, we’ve worked with others in the past, and we are willing to work with your team here to ensure the issue of illegal importation of medicines through the borders is curtailed.

Making remarks on behalf of the Mayor of Ganta City, Africano Dolo, Administrative Assistant to the City Mayor of Ganta, pledged the city government’s commitment to work and support the LMHRA team in Nimba to achieve their objectives.

According to him, the team headed by Pharmacist Anthony Baysah is trusted, therefore, he urged all city governments around the country where LMHRA has a presence to work with the authority to raid the society of substandard and falsified medicines.

Dolo further emphasized that no Government will want to see her citizens dying mysteriously, especially as a result of consuming poisonous medications. Hence, he urged the joint security in Ganta to work with the LMHRA team in Ganta as they go about executing their regulatory functions.

Representing the Liberian Pharmacy Board, Pharmacist Joe Mulbah, Regional Coordinator for Lofa, Bong, and Nimba, cautioned owners of pharmacies and medicines stores not to use their facilities as clinics.

He recommended to the LMHRA, to establish an incineration (burning) site in that region to avoid unwanted or expired medications traveling from those counties to Monrovia before being burned; as it would lead to it going back on the market and being consumed by the citizenry.

The Liberia Pharmacy Board Regional Coordinator also admonished the LMHRA to ensure vigorous regulations and sensitization efforts aimed at ensuring that falsified medicines should are taken off the market.

Attorney Stephen Quoi, Roving Prosecutor for Nimba County, further encouraged the LMHRA to involve the various Town Chiefs in the three counties, in the fight against the illegal importation as well as the sale of substandard, falsified, and expired drug medicines in the region.

Making special remarks, Bong County Superintendent, Esther Walker noted that without quality medicines, Liberians will not be discussing the issue about 2023 elections; because if Liberians must elect their leaders, they have to be healthy.

She vowed to discuss with other Counties’ Superintendents in the region and the joint security actors to work vigorously with the LMHRA to protect the citizens by going against those illegally importing and selling substandard and falsified medicines in the country.

“We are also talking with other Superintendents to provide land for the LMHRA to build her own office like it was done in Bong County. Therefore, we will ensure the land in Bong County is surveyed, deeded, probated, and turned over to the LMHRA for her work. We as lieutenants of the President have to work assiduously to achieve his agenda and pave the way for his re-election in 2023,” Superintendent Walker noted.

For his part, the Senior Program Officer for the United States Pharmacopeia PQM+, Theophilius Ndorbor, indicated that decentralization played a major role in the regulatory functions of the LMHRA.

According to him, decentralizing LMHRA plays a key role in revamping the regulatory objectives of the authority. Hence, Mr. Ndorbor noted that the establishment of the LMHRA office at the Ganta-Guinea border is a major step since the creation of the authority.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ndobor has assured USP PQM+ commitment to working with the LMHRA through pieces of training and other technical support aimed at ensuring that the regulatory authority meets its objectives.

Also, the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA), Managing Director, Pharmacist Keturah Smith-Chineh, further admonished staff assigned at the Gbarpolu, Bomi, and, Grand Cape Mount Counties (Region-3) detachment, to work robustly to discourage drugs peddling and also vigilantly ensure that pharmaceuticals do not enter the country through the land borders.

Madam Smith-Chineh also made these remarks at the program marking the official dedication of a refurbished LMHRA Region-3 office and turning over a brand new Toyota Land Cruiser jeep to be used in that part of the country.

According to her, the latest move by management is part of efforts to decentralize the activities of the authority; thus urging the team to robustly manned the border against all illegal entry of medicines and health products.

Managing Director Smith-Chineh used the occasion to laud the Joint Security and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) as well as the local officials in the Western region of Liberia for the teamwork over the years, in assisting the LMHRA to effectively execute its mandate.

She also urged officials of the three counties and the public to join ranks with the LMHRA to create a massive awareness of the harm associated with the sale of medicines in buckets, open areas, and back bags.

Meanwhile, Managing Director Smith-Chineh has disclosed plans for authority in the coming months to begin the burning of expired medicines from health facilities and those confiscated in the regions beginning with Grand Cape Mount County with the meager resources the entity generates.

According to her, it is very expensive for the LMHRA to transport expiries from the various health facilities around the country to its incineration site in Margibi County; owing to budgetary constraints.

Making official remarks at the ceremony, Grand Cape Mount County Superintendent, Aaron Vincent commended the joint security and the LRA, for the collaboration accorded the LMHRA and further cautioned citizens’ not to buy medicines from those selling in the buckets and open areas.

He also ordered local officials and the security apparatus of Grand Cape Mount County to assist the authority by arresting anyone caught selling medication in the open and in buckets.

Similarly, Bomi County Superintendent, Adama Dolley, noted that the inefficiency of medicines is causing too many deaths, therefore illegal entry and sales of medicines should be discouraged.

In that light, he has given strict instruction to the LMHRA along with police of the county to arrest illegal sellers of medicines or pharmaceuticals in Bomi County.

Superintendent Dolley called on the three counties’ authorities to take bold steps in assisting the LMHRA to achieve its mandate in the interest of the citizens of that region.

However, he stressed the need for the LMHRA to continue creating awareness, and also provide adequate manpower in these counties to effectively combat drug peddling.

Also speaking, the Board Chairman of the Liberia Pharmacy Board (LPB), Dr. Joseph Weah, asserted that it is the responsibility of the pharmacy board to work along with the LMHRA to ensure that only train practitioners dispense drugs and further ensure that medicines provided to the citizenry are safe and effective.

For his part, the Head of the Joint Security at the Bo-water Side, Major Saxon Tamgbo, recalled how tough it was at first in establishing the LMHRA regional office in that part of the country, however, he pledged the security fullest support to the LMHRA.

According to him, they have worked with the LMHRA since their establishment to make several arrests of illegal pharmaceutical products from vehicles transporting from Bo Waterside to Sierra Leone.

“So, the joint security will continue to work with the team to inspect all pharmacies and health facilities as well as ensure the arrest of any illegal pharmaceuticals entering the country,” Major Tamgbo pledged.

Representing the Pharmacy Owners of Gbarpolu, Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties, Cllr. Clarence Feikai emphasized the need for more manpower in region-3 cannot over-emphasized as the current workforce is less.

According to him, it is challenging to get the drug peddlers from the streets, however, he appreciated the LMHRA for establishing an office at Bo-waterside in Cape Mount which will help get rid of or minimize these drugs peddlers because they (drug peddlers) are pharmacy owners out of business.

Cllr. Fekai commended the management for procuring and assigning a new land cruiser jeep to the region for the smooth operations of their work.

In remarks also, the Chief Collector of LRA, Nicholas Doe, indicated that the revenue authority has been confiscating illegal medicines entering the borders prior to the establishment of the LMHRA office.

Mr. Doe vowed that the LRA, working with the LMHRA, will not allow any pharmaceuticals to pass through any of its land borders.

He further admonished the LMHRA to create more public awareness.

In separate remarks, the Township Commissioner of Bo-waterside, Miatta Kamara, and Tewor District Commissioner, Haji Jaleiba, noted that Government needs to put medicines in various hospitals and clinics, most especially the ones run the by Government of Liberia because it will stop people from buying street medications. They cautioned their citizens not to buy from the street peddlers.

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LMHRA Promulgates Seven New Regulations

The Liberia Medicines & Health Products Regulations Authority (LMHRA) in collaboration with the United States Pharmacopeia, through the Promoting of Quality Medicines Plus (USP PQM+), has promulgated seven new regulations that seek to guide the pharmaceutical sector of Liberia.

The promulgation of these regulations by the LMHRA is in fulfillment of Part 5 Section 7 of the Liberia Medicines & Health Products Regulations Authority Act of 2010; which confers upon the authority, the responsibility of regulating medicines and health products within the country. Hence, LMHRA management, with approval of the Board of Directors, on January 6, 2022, approved seven new regulations that will guide how medicines and health products are regulated in Liberia.

The seven regulations promulgated by the authority are Advertisement on Medicines & Health Products; Regulations on Donations of Medicines & Health Products; Regulations on Withdrawal, Recall, and Confiscation and Regulations on Treatment and Disposal of Medicines & Health Products.

Other regulations also promulgated by the LMHRA include Regulations on Registration of Medicines & Health Products; Regulations on Labelling of Medicines & Health Products and Regulations on Importation & Exportation of Medicines & Health Products.

On the 25th and 26th of May 2022, the LMHRA held a Presentation and Dissemination Meeting at USP PQM+-Liberia offices, with Importers (Commercial), County Pharmacists, Superintendent Pharmacists, Pharmacists of medical institutions, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs Importers), USAID, PQM+ and the Ministry of Health, as well as institutional bodies like Medicine San Frontier, Samaritan Purse, Partners in Health and Last Mile Health among others.

The meeting was held to circulate to stakeholders in the sector, the seven new regulations promulgated by the regulatory authority.

The purpose of the regulations on advertisement is a legal framework for the effective and efficient regulation of advertisement of Over the Counter (OTC) medicines and health products. The guiding principle for the advertisement of OTC medicines and health products is to ensure the health and safety of all people within Liberia.

While the purpose of the regulation on registration is to provide a legal framework to ensure effective and efficient regulation of the registration of all medicines and health products; and to provide an open, transparent and non-discriminatory process for the registration of all medicines and health products coming into the country.

At the same time, the regulations on donations seek to ensure that all donated medical products meet the current World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines as well as the 2014 guidelines for the donation of medicines and medical supplies to Liberia and the National Standard Treatment Guidelines of Liberia.

Accordingly, the regulation on importation and exportation is to provide a regulatory framework for the effective and efficient importation and exportation of medicines and health products.

Also, the regulation on labeling provides legal frameworks for the effective regulations of the label(s) that is or are printed/affixed to packaging material, including leaflet, which provides the necessary information about the medicine and ensures misleading information is not disseminated to the public.

And, the regulation of treatment and disposal of unfit medicines and health products provides a legal framework for the effective and efficient handling, treating, and disposing of unfit medicines and health products and also provides a transparent and non-discriminatory process for the treatment and disposal of unfit medicines and health products to protect human health and the environment from potential health hazards.

Several Technical Staff of the LMHRA’s Inspectorate, Registration & Evaluation, and Pharmacovigilance departments made separate presentations during the two-day event.

Other regulations governing the pharmaceutical sector are being drafted and would also subsequently be adopted and approved by the Board of Directors of the LMHRA.

The Liberia Medicines & Health Products Regulatory Authority is the statutory arm of the Government of Liberia with the responsibility to ensure that all medicines and health products circulating the borders of Liberia are safe and of good quality.

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LMHRA Ends A 16-Day Zero Drug Peddling Campaign

In Public and Private Schools

In an effort to discourage students from purchasing medicines and health products from street peddlers, the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) has climaxed a 16-day public awareness campaign in 28 public and private high schools in Montserrado county.

The campaign was launched on Tuesday February 8, 2022 at the William V. S. Tubman High School in Sinkor.

 The awareness in the schools was geared towards meeting with school administrations and students grouping and informing them about the importance of raising awareness on the risk associated with Substandard and Falsified (SF) medicines among the Liberian population and also discouraging them from purchasing Substandard & Falsified Medicines & Health Products from those selling medicines in the streets, otherwise referred to as Drug/Street Peddlers.

With the help of two of Liberia’s finest comedians in persons of Geezy Bahn, alias “Wedigar” and Future Doe; used their comical talents to draw the student’s attention and also explained the awareness message thru simplified Liberian English and comedy.

At the official opening of the program, the Managing Director of the LMHRA Pharmacist Keturah C. Smith-Chineh cautioned students to avoid buying medicines from drug peddlers because the conditions under which these peddlers sell these medicines are not conducive and because these medications are further exposed to harsh conditions such as exposure to sunlight, rainfall, not store under the right conditions, could be counterfeit and substandard as well as the harsh conditions under which these medications are often imported into the country.

Pharm. Chineh noted that the awareness was taken to the schools because most students may not know the harmful effects buying medicines and health products from bags, tables and buckets.

The initiative, solely supported by the Management of the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority with the aimed to help guarantee the health safety of Liberians and other nationals in the country.

 “You are the future leaders of this country, in order to live up to that, you should desist from buying medicines from street peddlers, most of whom, did not acquire any knowledge on what they sell to citizens in the market places, communities and other areas or else, it will hamper your dream of becoming leaders for this great nation,” she warned the students.

 MD Chineh urged the students to serve as ambassadors in their communities for LMHRA to sensitize residents in order to stop endangering their health by buying fake, substandard and expired medicines and health products that are secretly brought into the country through land borders and sold on the Liberian market.

The LMHRA boss urged everyone to always purchase their medicines from the pharmacies or drug stores to guarantee their safety.

 According to her, the health condition of citizens would turn from bad to worse if fake and substandard medicines are bought from the street peddlers and taken.

Concluding, the LMHRA boss said: “Medications that are kept in heat or sunlight have lost their potency or the ability to cure any illness,”

Also speaking at the opening ceremony, the Vice Principal for Students Affairs at the William V. S. Tubman High School, Madam Bass told the students to take the messages from the LMHRA very serious and take it to their respective communities as to help safe thousands lives.

According to her, it was never a mistake for the William V. S. Tubman High School to be chosen for the official launch of the awareness based on its historical role in the Liberian society.

At the R. C. Lawson High School where the program was climax, the Manager of Pharmaceutical Waste Management at the LMHRA, Dr. Jonathan J. Luciny, cautioned the students to not allow their health to be tempered with by people selling fake, expired, counterfeit and substandard medicines and health products.

He added that most of those selling medicines in buckets and black bags, do not know the effect of what they are selling.

Also adding, the Medicines Information Manager, Pharmacist Sancee G. Gray said people should not be carried away by those peddlers who show identification cards (ID card) in the name of being health workers or graduated from medical schools; noting that trained health workers shouldn’t be selling in buckets or bags, they should either be at health facilities.

The Liberia Medicines & Health Products Regulatory Authority has the statutory responsibility and mandate to “protect the public from the harmful effects of Substandard and Falsified (SF) Medicines and Health Products,” coupled with “ensuring that, in the national medicine supply system, only safe, effective, and good quality medicines reach the Liberian public. Also, the LMHRA is responsible to promulgate regulations to fight illegal trade in medicines, including counterfeit and adulterated medicines and health products and fair trade practices.”

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USAID Donates Critical Quality Assurance Lab Equipment To LMHRA

(L-R) LMHRA Managing Director, Pharmacist Keturah Smith-Chineh & USAID Health Director Jessica Healey
 

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently donated several pieces of critical testing equipment to the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) for its quality control laboratory to assure that all medicines and health products entering Liberia meet rigorous quality standards.

Liberian President George Manneh Weah attended the handover ceremony on May 13 where USAID, through its Promoting the Quality of Medicines Plus (PQM+) program, donated equipment, parts, and reference standards worth more than US$300,000.

The May 13 donation included high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) equipment; devices to conduct a chemical process called Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR); assorted laboratory glassware, reference standards to guide the assessment of tested medicines; and other laboratory supplies and consumables.

Substandard and falsified medicines undermine Liberia’s ability to address malaria, maternal and child health concerns, and family planning needs. Using state-of-the-art testing equipment, LMHRA’s lab can ascertain the quality of medicines and health products on the Liberian market.

The USAID Health Office Director, Jessica Healey, noted at the handover event that the equipment will enable Liberia to perform its own quality testing on medicines and other health products, rather than shipping samples out for testing in other countries. Ensuring that medicines meet established pharmaceutical standards, of internationally recognized compendia, will be more efficient and cost-effective in LMHRA’s own facility.

“Conducting compendial testing in Liberia now will have several benefits,” Healey said. “It will be cheaper and faster. … It means the lab is gradually moving towards sustainability because they will be able to generate funds from fees charged for sample testing.”

Enhanced testing capacity at the LMHRA lab will enable it to participate in proficiency testing and perform other quality audits, making it eligible for accreditation to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/ International Electrotechnical Commission (.IEC) 17025 Standard

President Weah noted that health care for Liberia’s citizens is an essential part of the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) and emphasized the need for a high-functioning quality control lab. “It is vital to have a system for inspecting the quality of medical products on the Liberian market,” he said. “The commitment of my administration to a healthy nation remains unwavering.”

LMHRA Managing Director Keturah Smith-Chineh thanked USAID for the donation and the U.S. Government’s support to the LMHRA since its establishment. She noted that the lab is the foundation and pillar of all regulatory processes, and ongoing support from USAID and PQM+ has included chemicals, reagents, equipment, training, and capacity building. USAID’s PQM+ program, implemented by U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), provides technical assistance in more than 20 countries to assure the quality of medicines and health products. In Liberia, PQM+ works to increase LMHRA’s capacity to carry out regulatory functions to ensure the quality of medical products in country.

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Pres. Weah Dedicates LMHRA Mini-Quality Control Lab

Ultra-modern QCL Expected Within A Year

President George Manneh Weah on May 13, 2022, dedicated Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) mini Quality Control Laboratory, King’s Farm, Careysburg, Montserrado County.

During the dedicatory ceremony, President Weah admonished the management of LMHRA to ensure the construction of the ultra-modern quality control laboratory within a year; pledging his administration’s fullest support towards the process.

However, President Weah noted that healthcare for Liberia’s citizens is an essential part of the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), and emphasized the need for a high-functioning quality control lab. “It is vital to have a system for inspecting the quality of medical drugs on the Liberian market,” he said. “The commitment of my administration to a healthy nation remains unwavering.”

At the ceremony, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Promoting Quality Medicines Plus Program, United States Pharmacopeia,   donated equipment worth over US$300,000.00 to the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory (LMHRA) Quality Control Laboratory; to enable the authority adequately test all medicines and health products entering the borders of Liberia.

The turning over ceremony was made in the presence of the President of the Republic of Liberia, George Manneh Weah.

The equipment turnover to the LMHRA by USAID includes spare parts for Waters Alliance HPLC, Waters Alliance HPLC, FTIR Equipment, Laboratory Assorted Glassware, HPLC Parts, Assorted Reference Standards, Non-Radioactive Chemicals, Agilent, Dissolution Test Apparatus, and other assorted laboratory supplies and consumables.

Making remarks at the program, the Director of USAID’s Office of Health, Jessica Healey, noted at the handover event that the equipment will enable Liberia to perform its own quality testing on medicines and other health products, rather than shipping samples out for testing in other countries. Ensuring that medicines meet established pharmaceutical standards, called compendial testing, will be more efficient and cost-effective in LMHRA’s own facility.

“Conducting compendial testing in Liberia now will have several benefits,” Healey said. “It will be cheaper and faster. It means the lab is gradually moving towards sustainability because they will be able to generate funds from fees charged for sample testing.”

Enhanced testing capacity at the LMHRA lab will enable it to conduct proficiency testing and perform other quality audits, making it eligible for accreditation by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Receiving the equipment, LMHRA Managing Director Pharmacist Keturah Smith-Chineh thanked USAID for the donation and the U.S. Government’s support to the LMHRA since its establishment. She noted that the lab is the foundation and pillar of all regulatory processes and ongoing support from USAID and PQM+ has included chemicals, reagents, equipment, training, and capacity building.

USAID’s PQM+ program, implemented by U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), provides technical assistance in more than 20 countries to assure the quality of medicines and health products. In Liberia, PQM+ works to increase LMHRA’s capacity to carry out regulatory functions to ensure the quality of medical products in country.

The May 13 donation included high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) equipment; devices to conduct a chemical process called Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR); assorted laboratory glassware, reference standards to guide the assessment of tested medicines; and other laboratory supplies and consumables.

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LMHRA COMPLETES 14-Day Pharmaceutical Premise Inspection

Friday, 07 October 2022: The Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) conducted inspection of pharmaceutical warehouses from 12th – 26th September 2022 in Montserrado County.

Proper storage of medicines is important to ensure the quality, effectiveness and safety of the medicines. The loss of potency during storage may influence the therapeutic outcome, efficacy and safety of pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceutical products require controlled storage and transit conditions in order to ensure that their quality is not compromised. Storage is an important aspect of the total drug control system. Proper environmental control (i.e., proper temperature, light, and humidity, conditions of sanitation, ventilation, and segregation) must be maintained wherever drugs and supplies are stored in the premises.

It is against this backdrop, and in pursuant to the mandate of the LMHRA that the Department of Inspectorate and Post Market Surveillance, along with the Communications Unit, carried out a 14-day rigorous premise inspection of all pharmaceutical warehouses within Montserrado County. This exercise was intended to ensure that importers are in adherence to the regulatory policy promulgated by the LMHRA regarding the storage condition of all medicines and health products. Medical products may be subjected to various risks at different stages in the supply chain, for example: purchasing, storage, repackaging, relabelling, transportation and distribution.

During the 14-day inspection, the LMHRA teams inspected all warehouses across central Monrovia by dividing the city into segments. The teams moved into other areas inspecting warehouses along Bushrod Island, the Sinkor area, Tubman Boulevard, and Old Road routes, Congo Town and Gardnersville, along the Japanese Drive.

Substandard and falsified products are a significant threat to public health and safety. Poor-quality medicines—those that are unregistered, substandard, or falsified—can endanger patients, extend illness unnecessarily, and even result in death. Poor-quality medicines also undermine efforts to improve health and strengthen health systems, erode public confidence in those same systems, and may contribute to antimicrobial resistance. Consequently, it is essential to protect the supply chain through regular regulatory inspection to curb the penetration of such products. A total of seventy-four (74) pharmacies, with 116 warehouses, were inspected.

Regulatory actions will be taken against any pharmacy failing to adhere to the Authority’s Guidelines on storage of pharmaceutical products. With the mandate to “protect the public from the harmful effects of substandard and Falsified (SF) medicines and health products”, coupled with “ensuring that, in the national medicine supply system, only safe, effective, and good quality medicines reach the Liberian public for consumption, promulgate regulations to fight illegal trade in medicines, including counterfeit and adulterated medicines and health products and fair trade practices”, the LMHRA remains unwavering in enforcing established guidelines and regulations to protect the public.

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LMHRA’s Region 3 Office Confiscates Huge Consignment of Tramadol at Bo-Waterside Border

As Drug Peddlers Enter Into a Fist-Fight with LMHRA Inspectors

To continue to ensure that Substandard and Falsified (SF) medicines do not enter the borders of Liberia, the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) Region 3 Office in Grand Cape Mount County, covering the Western Cluster Counties of Cape Mount, Bomi, and Gbarpolu, has confiscated a huge consignment of Tramadol Hydrochloride 225mg, from a Guinean driver at the Bo-Waterside border during an inspection on Wednesday, September 14th, 2022, bound for Monrovia, intended for sale in Liberia’s major cities and towns. This confiscation was based on an intelligence report received by the Authority.

Upon receiving such intelligence, employees of the LMHRA at the Bo-Waterside border post in Grand Cape Mount County, set up surveillance to ensure the truck was searched; and fortunately, a huge consignment of the narcotic medical products was discovered and confiscated by the team.

The driver of the vehicle was turned over to the relevant securities and is currently being investigated by the Joint Security Team at Bo-Waterside Border Point.

In related development, the team on September 9, 2022, raided a huge consignment of substandard and falsified medicines in the Jenne-Wonde market, in Grand Cape Mount County and the Sasstown Market in Bomi County; even though a serious scuffle erupted between drug peddlers and staff of LMHRA Region-3, preventing the team from confiscating the medicines.

It can be recalled that the LMHRA has warned these drug peddlers from selling medicines in buckets and open market tables, and to relocate their medicines into the store, but these warnings and awareness seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Even though some of these drug peddlers have left the table markets and migrated to opening medicines stores.

Falsified medicines are deliberately fraudulent drugs that pose a direct risk to patient health and undermine healthcare systems, causing many deaths. While the LMHRA has made efforts to stem the tide of counterfeit medicine sold on the markets, business owners continue to make strides to circumvent every measure the Authority has put into place. Some of the measures put into place by LMHRA include the opening of regional offices covering Grand Cape Mount, Bomi & Gbarpolu Counties in the Western Cluster; Bong, Lofa & Nimba covering Central Liberia, as well as a sub-office at the Roberts International Airport, with about 25 staff assigned.

Public education and awareness campaigns on the dangers of counterfeit drugs and on the risks of substituting legitimate medicines for cheaper fake drugs have been rolled out to alert authorities and the general public to the threats posed by counterfeit medicines. This activity is currently ongoing in various major markets and highly populated communities in Montserrado County. The Authority has also organized prevention campaigns in high schools in Monrovia and its environs to raise awareness about the proliferation of counterfeit medicines and buying medicines and other health products from street peddlers. Despite these initiatives, the counterfeit products are still being furtively sold at markets across Liberia. The issue of fake medicines in Liberia remains a public health crisis. The Authority will continue to engage National Government and its partners to increase its capacities to detect incidences of smuggling substandard and falsified drugs into the country. This includes increased manpower and logistics for the Authority across the borders through improved surveillance and technology

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LMHRA Boss Wants Drugs Peddling Robustly Discouraged

Procures New Vehicle for Region-3 Inspectorate

LMHRA MD Presents the Key of the Vehicle to the Regional Manager, MD & Employees Post near the New Vehicle Procured

Liberia’s National Regulatory Authority of Liberia, the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA), Managing Director, Pharmacist Keturah Smith-Chineh, has admonished staff assigned at the Gbarpolu, Bomi, and, Grand Cape Mount Counties (Region-3) detachment, to work robustly to discourage drugs peddling and also vigilantly ensure that pharmaceuticals do not enter the country through the land borders.

Madam Smith-Chineh made the remarks at program marking the official dedication of a refurbished LMHRA Region-3 office and turning over of a brand new Toyota Land Cruiser jeep to be used in that part of the country.

According to her, the latest move by management is part of efforts to decentralize the activities of the authority; thus urging the team to robustly manned the border against all illegal entry of medicines and health products.

Managing Director Smith-Chineh used the occasion to laud the Joint Security and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) as well as the local officials in the Western region of Liberia for the teamwork over the years, in assisting the LMHRA to effectively execute its mandate.

She also urged officials of the three counties and the public to join ranks with the LMHRA to create a massive awareness of the harm associated with the sale of medicines in buckets, open areas, and back bags.

Meanwhile, Managing Director Smith-Chineh has disclosed plans for authority in the coming months to begin the burning of expired medicines from health facilities and those confiscated in the regions beginning with Grand Cape Mount County with the meager resources the entity generates.

According to her, it is very expensive for the LMHRA to transport expiries from the various health facilities around the country to its incineration site in Margibi County; owing to budgetary constraints.

Making official remarks at the ceremony, Grand Cape Mount County Superintendent, Aaron Vincent commended the joint security and the LRA, for the collaboration accorded the LMHRA and further cautioned citizens’ not to buy medicines from those selling in the buckets and open areas.

He also ordered local officials and the security apparatus of Grand Cape Mount County to assist the authority by arresting anyone caught selling medication in the open and in buckets.

Similarly, Bomi County Superintendent, Adama Dolley, noted that the inefficiency of medicines is causing too many deaths, therefore illegal entry and sales of medicines should be discouraged.

In that light, he has given strict instruction to the LMHRA along with police of the county to arrest illegal sellers of medicines or pharmaceuticals in Bomi County.

Superintendent Dolley called on the three counties’ authorities to take bold steps in assisting the LMHRA to achieve its mandate in the interest of the citizens of that region.

However, he stressed the need for the LMHRA to continue creating awareness, and also provide adequate manpower in these counties to effectively combat drug peddling.

Also speaking, the Board Chairman of the Liberia Pharmacy Board (LPB), Dr. Joseph Weah, asserted that it is the responsibility of the pharmacy board to work along with the LMHRA to ensure that only train practitioners dispense drugs and further ensure that medicines provided to the citizenry are safe and effective.

For his part, the Head of the Joint Security at the Bo-water Side, Major Saxon Tamgbo, recalled how tough it was at first in establishing the LMHRA regional office in that part of the country, however, he pledged the security fullest support to the LMHRA.

According to him, they have worked with the LMHRA since their establishment to make several arrests of illegal pharmaceutical products from vehicles transporting from Bo Waterside to Sierra Leone.

“So, the joint security will continue to work with the team to inspect all pharmacies and health facilities as well as ensure the arrest of any illegal pharmaceuticals entering the country,” Major Tamgbo pledged.

Representing the Pharmacy Owners of Gbarpolu, Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties, Cllr. Clarence Feikai emphasized the need for more manpower in region-3 cannot over-emphasized as the current workforce is less.

According to him, it is challenging to get the drug peddlers from the streets, however, he appreciated the LMHRA for establishing an office at Bo-waterside in Cape Mount which will help get rid of or minimize these drugs peddlers because they (drug peddlers) are pharmacy owners out of business.

Cllr. Fekai commended the management for procuring and assigning a new land cruiser jeep to the region for the smooth operations of their work.

In remarks also, the Chief Collector of LRA, Nicholas Doe, indicated that the revenue authority has been confiscating illegal medicines entering the borders prior to the establishment of the LMHRA office.

Mr. Doe vowed that the LRA, working with the LMHRA, will not allow any pharmaceuticals to pass through any of its land borders.

He further admonished the LMHRA to create more public awareness.

In separate remarks, the Township Commissioner of Bo-waterside, Miatta Kamara, and Tewor District Commissioner, Haji Jaleiba, noted that Government needs to put medicines in various hospitals and clinics, most especially the ones run the by Government of Liberia, because it will stop people from buying street medications. They cautioned their citizens not to buy from the street peddlers.

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Guidelines For Registration of Medicines and Health Products in Liberia 2