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Pharmacy Board Destroys Counterfeit Drugs in Kenema, Sierra Leone

11-Jun-2007: The Kenema branch of the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone has on Tuesday, 5th June set ablaze a large quantity of counterfeit and expired drugs arrested from various Pharmacy and Drug Stores across Kenema at the Kenema Government Hospital, as part of its clean up exercise of such drugs in the country.

Speaking to Awareness Times in Kenema, the Chairperson of the Pharmacy Board branch, Madam Fatmata Gassimu intimated that there has been a proliferation of pharmacies and drug stores in the Kenema and Kailahun districts in recent times and as such she had instituted a check of their products as a way of curtailing the like proliferation of counterfeit and expired drugs in the community. According to her, many of these drug stores and pharmacies are unregistered, which brings the suspicion that they might be engaged in selling these unwanted drugs. She said most of the catches were made from those she referred to "Pepeh Doctors" who carry first and second class drugs in portfolios.

"Most of these quack doctors go to the extent of administering drugs and injections to innocent people, which have endangered people’s lives," she noted.

The exercise, Madam Gassimu indicated started a month ago, aimed at cleaning the community of "these dangerous people" she stated.

Asked as to how counterfeit drugs are identified, Madam Gassimu intimated that apart from standards set for the identification, as trained professionals, it is not a difficult task for them to identify such drugs.

Asked what would become of the culprits in whose possession these counterfeit drugs were found, Madam Gassimu said they would be charged to court and if found guilty, would either pay fines or be sent to prison.

Madam Gassimu emphasized on the need for pharmacy and drug store operators to ensure that they acquire the right license for the handling and sale of drugs and warned that even with that, those who fail the specification identified for the handling and sale of specific drugs would also be guilty of an offence against the Pharmacy Board Act.

"Because we want to ensure the protection of our people, the Pharmacy Board does not issue license to peddlers and ‘Pepeh Doctors’ for the simple fact that they do not have the expertise and knowledge of handling and administering drugs to patients," Madam Gassimu noted.

She however noted that her branch is facing serious constraints in terms of logistics that can ensure their mobility from point to point in the region. She indicated that as result of that shortcoming, "unscrupulous people seize advantage of the situation to ply their trade in those areas where they are sure the Board cannot easily access. She therefore appealed to the Head Office in Freetown to assist them with some means of mobility. She warned people in the Kenema and Kailahun communities to desist from buying drugs from people who are not trained in the handling and administration of drugs, pointing out that by doing so, they would be putting their lives at risk.

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