The Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) yesterday began a two-day workshop to validate and adopt clinical trial documents in an effort to manage the supply and distribution of health and medical products.
In a brief press conference in Paynesville, the managing director of LMHRA, David Sumo, told journalists that the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in 2014 put not only LMHRA on the alert to care how medicines and all other health products are managed and used by people, but how reference documents, from which learning may be derived, are recycled.
“LMHRA has the oversight responsibility to research on health products and diseases which come as a result of poor and substandard medicines our people take in for the cure of diseases,” Sumo said. He said it is LMHRA’s prerogative to know where medicines entering into the country come from and that they are clinically approved for use by his agency.
“This is why we have called key stakeholders, including our partners from Ghana and other countries, to help us validate all of the papers we are drafting. We are developing a research platform to be able to regulate all clinical research for medicines and all other health products and our review process will focus on the inspection of clinical research sites too,” he said.
Sumo further noted that LMHRA has been in the business over the years, with efforts geared at removing people who sell drugs in the streets from such commercialization of drugs and other health products.
“The lives of our people are seriously exposed to danger, because of the poor quality of medicines they buy and take in from vendors. A lot of people are involved in illegal cross-border trade on drugs,” he said.
He added that some people go to Guinea to buy other things but, in the process of buying those items, they think it wise to also purchase drugs sold in the streets of many parts of Guinea, and then bring them to Liberia to earn a profit.
“They see the sale of medicine as another way of making a living, but this perception about livelihood is wrong. Looking for money the wrong way, mainly by doing business with products only meant to be managed and distributed by trained and professional persons, is a great threat to public health,” he said.
He said it is about time that the joint security collaborates with LMHRA to curtail the practice of people selling drugs and other health products in streets of the country.
He warned that government’s huge expenses will not be reduced if measures are not put in place to monitor drugs that are brought into the country as an integral part of the process of sustainability to keep the country safe.
He outlined emergency versus unprepared health system, lack of regulatory financing, lack of regulation of new drugs and vaccines for emerging diseases and lack of improved safety monitoring as some of the key challenges confronting the health system of the country.
Sumo said there is a need for a strong political will to help keep most of the well trained medical personnel, including pharmacists, in the country.
“Because of greener pastures, lots of people who are supposed to help are leaving the country in search of better income and improved lives. Government has to help by encouraging these people with good incentives and better environment in order for them to operate in the best interest of their fellow citizens and others who visit or are in our country,” he said.
The workshop, which started yesterday, October 29, is expected to end today with hope that a valid document will emerge for the LMHRA to tackle certain components of health products’ management and distribution.
Attending are participants from the Medical Dental Council, LMHRA and other health and pharmacological organizations in the country.