Employees of the Liberia Medicines & Health Products Regulatory (LMHRA) have revealed that low budgetary support is hampering it ability to police the flow of medicines and medical equipment in the country to ensure product quality while monitoring pharmacovigilance measures.
According to three senior-level employees, persistent low budget support over the years has limited the agency’s ability to procure necessary logistical materials to effectively carry on its mandate which is to ensure safety, efficacy, and security of human drugs, biological products, medical devices, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.
The three employees, who are Teedoh Beyslow, Head of Inspectorate Department, Alexander Momo, Head of Medicines Registration Unit and Samuel Toe, Senior Laboratory Analyst, explained that the situation has also made it difficult for the LMHRA to dispose of pharmaceutical waste on time.
“As it stands, there are several medical institutions around the country that are requesting the LMHRA to dispose of the waste but, due to the challenges faced by the institution, they are yet to jump-start the process,” Beyslow, Head of Inspectorate Department, said in an interview on the Super Morning Show (SMS) on ELBC with his two other colleagues.
Beyslow further explained that the situation might soon be over as they working with USAID to start the collection and subsequent incineration of these pharmaceutical wastes.
Amid the delay, Beyslow is appealing to pharmacies and medicine stores “not to dispose of their pharmaceutical wastes, because the LMHRA is the only institution clothed with the responsibility and technical know-how to dispose of pharmaceutical wastes.”
According to the Inspector General, the institution had earlier planned to decentralize its inspection activities but, due to logistical constraints, it has been difficult. However, with help from USAID, the LMHRA is expected to do so in the shortest possible time.
“If the drug is not safe, it denatures the ingredients of the medicines and health products and caused deterioration in the consumer health of skin,” the Inspector General explained.
Beyslow and his two colleagues added that due to low budgetary support, they have not been able to ensure adequate and substantial public awareness to the public to help in the fight against street peddling and open sale of medicines around the country.
Since its establishment in 2010, the LMHRA has struggled with low funding and lack of logistics to combat the proliferation of substandard and fake medicines on the Liberian market, which puts the country’s health at risk from poor-quality medicines that stream unchecked across its borders.
Despite these challenges, the LMHRA has also managed to have some success stories, most of which came in its early years of existence.
Some of these success stories include destroyed 27,600 packs of oral artemisinin-based monotherapy medicines (AMT) and 143 cartons of other poor-quality medicines in September 2017, confiscation of an estimated US$68,000 worth of unregistered and falsified products as well as removed 82,800 tablets of AMT from the market and the confiscation of more than 200 packs of falsified medications.
Commenting further on illegal sale of medicines and health products, the three senior staffs in separate remarks noted that the LMHRA is expected to develop it first regulation after its pending retreat to rigidly deal with those caught or engaged in illegal street peddling, as well as those found bringing fake or substandard medicines or health products into the country.
For his part, the Senior Analyst of the laboratory said before the lab was gutted by fire, they carried on International Standard Organization (ISO) testing that was guaranteed by the ISO but since then, they are struggling to do so.
For Momo, he disclosed that the registration of drugs is to ensure that pharmaceutical products circulating in Liberia is in compliance with the 2010 Act that created the entity.