By C. Winnie Saywah
Study has proven that drugs containing active ingredients known medically as ‘Nimesulide’ commonly referred to as ‘pain killer’ on the Liberian market is the major contribution to damaged liver worldwide.
At the burning site of thousand of harmful drugs considered as poisons in Tenegar, St Paul District outside Monrovia recently, the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA’s) Assistant Regulatory Officer, Joseph N. Somwarbi said the nimesulide products have been on the market long before information about its ban was received late last year.
Mr. Somwarbi said at first it was Osteo that was paramount to containing the harmful nimesulide chemicals for human consumption and the LMHRA task force team along with the Drug Enforcement Officers retrieved several cartoons of nimesulide chemicals in various drugs amounting to a pickup full from the counties visited recently.
“We encourage those buying the drugs to go back for their refund but we cannot give them back. Any importer found smuggling such drugs will be penalized legally. People sit on table and buy drugs from peddlers who are not pharmacists and might have no knowledge about the drug but are referred to as doctors,” Mr. Somwarbi stated.
He then warned warn market women to go to medical practitioners instead of going to ‘rubber bucket drug sellers’ noting, “Don’t be reluctant. The drugs become poisonous and when the temperature is not maintained then it loses its potency. This is a serious matter and requires collective efforts to combat such crime because if the populace were all pharmacists, they would understand the risk involved in supporting street peddlers,” he stated.
The country’s pharmacist for Montserrado County, Thomas Wolapaye serving as one of the monitors during the burning exercise of the sub-standard drugs said 200 cartoons of drugs were retrieved from a local pharmacy on Broad Street. He explained that the Health Ministry knows about some of the legally established entities whose mandate is to control the importation and exportation of any medicine in the country.
He said the importation of drugs should be done only by air or sea, emphasizing that no drugs should be passed through land borders. Mr. Wolapaye known as ‘county-one’ said the Ministry of Health has the Act that mandates the regulatory authority to establish its own regulation therefore offices will be set up in each county to beef up the regulatory authority mandate.
The focal person of the Pharmaceutical Waste Management, Diana Jeator amounted the quantity of drugs burnt to about US$250,000 adding that the exercise is being decentralized gradually and that the categories of burnt substances include expired products, drugs not handled properly and drugs that have been banned.
She revealed that information on the banned drugs was provided by the internet and research while the expired products were noticed by the expiration and manufacture dates. Inspector Jeator said most of the products were taken from the counties namely Sinoe, Margibi, Grand Kru and Grand Gedeh while in Monrovia drugs were taken from street peddlers or market stalls.
She said the products seized were sold on market tables and because the temperature changes the formulation of the products, that is why they are warning people and importers not to support drug peddlers because serious legal prosecution awaits those caught in the act.