To Curtail The Proliferation of Substandard & Falsified Medicines:
To curtail the proliferation and importation of Substandard and Falsified Medicines in Liberia; the premier public pharmaceutical regulatory authority in Liberia, the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) has opened a new regional office in Ganta, Nimba County; to help combat the importation and sale of these unwanted pharmaceuticals to the people of Bong, Nimba and Lofa Counties.
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.
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 the 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.
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.