The Managing Director of the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority, David Sumo, has warned the general public against buying expired and counterfeit drugs without any medical prescription, saying that “the drugs could breakdown the body and kill you.”
Speaking yesterday at the Information Ministry’s regular Ebola Hour press briefing on Capitol Hill, Mr. Sumo said there were many people importing expired and counterfeit drugs and others of low content, which do not have the capacity to heal anyone from their illness.
According to Mr. Sumo, most of the counterfeit and expired drugs are transported overnight by trucks and other small vehicles from neighboring countries, including Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast. This poses a serious challenge for the LMHRA in their regulating responsibility.
“They cross illegally and bring in some of the drugs that are not allowed on our markets or may be questionable in terms of their quality. We have to beef up our surveillance to make sure that we have [honest and credible] people at the various border points,” said Mr. Sumo.
He explained that LMHRA is working with importers of drugs to make sure that their products meet regulatory requirements including prolonged effectiveness before expiration date.
The Managing Director disclosed: “If you go to other markets, including Red Light, Waterside, Duala and Rally Time, the drugs sellers are all around selling these drugs without licenses. We have those carrying drugs in the buckets and treating people with some counterfeit and expired medicines,” Mr. Sumo warned.
These illegal practices are on the rise in the country, including the expired drugs, counterfeits and the illegal importation of these drugs, he said. He described the selling of these drugs in market places and in buckets as a serious challenge for LMHRA.
He further disclosed that the LMHRA is working closely in collaboration with the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA), to ensure that these illegal importers of drugs are arrested and proper border security are put in place.
“We have confronted the security on several occasions about the illegal practices which are putting peoples’ lives at risk. We have to continue to do something about it to ensure that Liberia graduates from such bad practices,” said Mr. Sumo.
According to him, the issue of selling drugs on the street and in market places was banned in many countries, including East Africa that have developed and are enforcing rules and regulations to ensure that expired and counterfeit drugs are off the markets.
“We are in a modern era and should not be selling drugs in buckets to people. Such practices should be curtailed and contained in Liberia. This will stop them from risking our peoples’ lives, especially when our people are trying to seek treatment during illness. We have to nail it and nail it for good, no matter who gets affected in the process,” he declared.
Mr. Sumo continued, “People need to learn to do the right thing and avoid doing things that negatively affect other people. Many people have been [adversely] affected by these expired and counterfeit drugs.”
Mr. Sumo called on the public to continue to visit healthcare centers and avoid buying drugs from street sellers as well as self-administering drugs during illness. He described this practice as a serious risk to recovery that could lead even to death.