Medical Supplies Stolen from NDS, Shipped to Guinea

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The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has arrested a truckload of Ebola-related medicines and medical supplies leaving Liberia bound for Guinea. The drugs were reportedly loaded to be smuggled to Guinea from Monrovia and exchanged for “fake pharmaceutical products” to be brought to Liberia when the DEA arrested the Guinean truck with plate number 7596-J, driven by one Hassan Kromah, a Guinean national.
Those suspected to be in connection to the drugs trade have reportedly connected the hierarchy of the National Drug Service (NDS) as well as those from the Liberia Medical Health and Regulative Authority (LMHRA) and some personnel of the Ministry of Health (MOH), an insider at the DEA has informed the Daily Observer.
One of the suspects involved is identified as Abdullai Kamara, who chartered the truck with two helpers, are helping the DEA with their investigation. He has meanwhile named two other accomplices to the deal as Sidikie Swaray and Musa Swaray.
The 146 cartons of pharmaceutical items, according to DEA Director-General Anthony K. Souh, were arrested on Tuesday, September 1, on board the truck with other assorted items at the old Plank Field opposite the National Port Authority (NPA), while the truck was preparing to take off for Guinea.
Among the medical supplies arrested were several cartons of drugs and other materials donated by international partners to Liberia’s health authorities toward the fight against the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD), the DEA said, quoting health officials
The medicines, some of which have expiration dates between 2017 and 2019, include five cartons of various types of penicillin injections labeled by the international dispensary association (IDA). Others include batches of paracetamol products, 49 cartons of disposable needles and syringes, other types of antibiotics such as Cloxacillin, Erythromycin, etc. They were donated to the Government of Liberia (GOL) through the Ministry of Health by Mission Pharmacy and Chattern Dispensary, while others are from the IDA.
IDA Foundation is the world’s leading not-for-profit supplier of essential, quality-assured medicines and medical supplies to low and middle income countries such like Liberia. Founded in 1972, IDA Foundation is headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and has offices in India, China, Nigeria and USA with a global network of over 40 representative agents.
At a major press conference over the weekend, the DEA said it presumed the drugs came directly from a warehouse belonging to the National Drug Service and were headed for the Republic of Guinea.
Present at the press conference were Liberia’s chief pharmacist, Tijli Tyee, and LMHRA executive director, David Sumo. The NDS managing director, Beyan Johnson, was not present but was represented by the Logistics Coordinator, Tom Nyanwatolu.
In their separate statements, all three commended the DEA for the continued collaboration with their respective offices, which they believe eventually led to the arrest of the drugs bound for Guinea. The three officials individually promised to cooperate with each other and help the DEA with the investigation to establish circumstances surrounding the entire drugs saga.
“We agree that these products are from our warehouse,” the NDS Logistics Coordinator said, “but we don’t know how they got out. We promise to investigate in collaboration with the DEA.”
The NDS Managing Director Beyan Johnson confirmed knowledge of the arrest to the Daily Observer via mobile phone yesterday, but declined to elaborate. “I am aware of the arrest by the DEA and the ongoing investigation. I wouldn’t want to comment further.”
Meanwhile, the DEA is convinced that the “high quality drugs in Liberia” are often taken to Guinea and exchanged for substandard medicines or the counterfeit/fake ones which are brought back to Liberia.
However, DEA Director Souh said while the GOL was committed to fighting corruption, there are some elements therein that are undermining the fight, thereby importing fake medicines into the country undermine government’s effort to restore the health sector.
He disclosed that those suspected in the smuggling of those valuable drugs from the ware houses of the government under the watchful eyes of the NDS are the same group of persons, who have the intent of bringing back into the country illicit, counterfeit or expired drugs only to harm the already poverty-stricken Liberians and paralyze the weak health sector.
Recently, the DEA arrested a huge quantity of fake drugs being smuggled into Liberia at the border with Guinea, near Ganta, Nimba County. The fake products were brought to Monrovia and turned over to the authorities of the MOH through the pharmaceutical board.
The drugs stolen from the NDS and arrested aboard the truck bound for Guinea have meanwhile been turned over to the Liberia National Police (LNP), who will later turn them over to the MOH.

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