Barely three days after President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf reported on the proliferation of counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs that continue to pose a serious risk to public health in the sub-region, the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) Monday discovered 75 cartons of expired drugs in the Johnsonville-Pipeline Community in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.
The expired pharmaceutical products, the LDEA said, was discovered on Monday, April 10, by undercover agents following a tipoff from unanimous sources.
“The expired drugs were discovered in an unfinished building, but those connected to the deal fled following the tipoff,” the agency’s director-general, Anthony K. Souh, told the Daily Observer yesterday.
Among the 75 cartons of expired products, were vermox, which is often used to expel worms from the stomach; HIV test kits; amodiaquine, used to treat malaria; septrin; gentamycine; paracetamol; sterilized water; blood transfusion bags, and many others.
Although up to press time the LDEA was yet to establish the monetary value of the drugs, it had made no arrests. A majority of the drugs have the inscription, “destined for Maryland County and JFK Medical Center,” with expiry dates of 2014, 2015, and 2016, while the rest expired in February this year. The LDEA said it is collaborating with the Liberia Medical Health Regulatory Authority.
Because of the importance of the discovery, Mr. Souh called on the public to examine the medicine they buy from those who ply their trade on the streets.
It may be recalled that on Monday, President Sirleaf as Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of State and Governments of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), said the proliferation of sub-standard medicines and expired drugs, which are falsely labeled, is a major cause of mortality and the loss of public confidence in medicines and health structures.
She said despite the close cooperation between drug companies, governments and international organizations on trade, health, customs and excise on counterfeiting, the prevalence of counterfeit drugs appears to be rising.
The President made the statement at a resort in Monrovia during the official opening of the meeting of the Joint Committee on Health and Social Welfare, Trade, Customs, and the free movement of the ECOWAS Parliament.