By Alieu Kondoh

The Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone (PHBSL) together with the world Health Organization (WHO) has launched the campaign on Substandard and Falsified medical products at their Medical Stores office in Freetown.

The campaign was to advice the public about the use of fake drugs sold by So-called “drug peddlers” that ply the streets of towns and villages across Sierra Leone and much of West Africa, selling pharmaceuticals, often counterfeit or substandard, at reduced rates.

The theme for the Campaign is ‘protect yourself and the people around you from fake and damaged medicines.’

The Acting Registrar of Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone, Dr. James Peter Komeh stated that the campaign was funded by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UK government, adding that a study was conducted across all regions of Sierra Leone in February, 2020 to source information on the danger of substandard and falsified medicine.

Komeh maintained that the study revealed that 10% of Sierra Leoneans still access medicine from unofficial sources (drug hawkers), noting that people should protect themselves and their communities from the risk of substandard and falsified medical products.

“This campaign will help to improve citizens knowledge on substandard and falsified medical product, and also enhance citizens high level of confidence to check medicines on their own and to develop the practice of reporting when suspected falsified drug is identified,” he affirmed.

Komeh continued that the pharmacy board works with the police and the judiciary to enforce the Pharmacy Act, and indicated that tougher punitive measures are needed to deal with drug peddlers.

He added that due to various regulatory measures, the number of medicines that failed Quality Control had gradually been reduced over the years, saying that between 2003 and 2005, the incidences of counterfeiting increased to 30%.

He said that counterfeit cannot be limited to drugs, it can be cosmetic product or nutritional agent, saying that everybody can be a victim of counterfeit product.

He disclosed that the World Health Organization (WHO) has provided them with two machines that will easily identify counterfeit drugs, cosmetics, and nutritional products.

Dr. Joy B. Johnson the Head of Enforcement at the Pharmacy Board Sierra Leone said strides have been made over the past few years to ensure drugs are safe and effective, but medical practitioners still cite these drugs as one of the largest obstacles in their fight to save lives.