Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | 10 per cent of the drug regimens in the country have substandard or counterfeit copies of them sold on the market, according to the National Drug Authority.
Although they appear indistinguishable, the fake brands are mixed with other chemicals changing their chemical composition and efficacy.
NDA Board Chairman Dr Medard Bitekyerezo says that the counterfeits enter the country through porous borders, across Lake Victoria, and sometimes brought into the country by smugglers disguising them as other products. Most of them believed to originate from neighbouring countries like Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He, however, adds that the authority is now carrying out campaigns to remove all the drugs from drug shops and stores across the country. Dr Bitekyerezo says that NDA has made arrangements to tighten surveillance at all entry points in order to stop substandard drugs from entering the country.
Dr Bitekyerezo was speaking during celebrations to mark 25 years of NDA, at Hotel Africana in Kampala today.
In March 2019, the drug authority begun a campaign aimed at curbing drug fraud from in the country. So far, more than 200 boxes of drugs have been recovered during the operation. Samuel Kyomukama, the head of law enforcement at NDA says that the racket behind fake drugs is widespread and determined.
He adds that most people who sell fake drugs are not even aware that what they have on their shelves are fake. NDA advises the public to take note of the appearance of batch numbers found on the box of medicine or the blister. The batch numbers of genuine drugs are visible while those of substandard products most times are not.
Medics say that the consumption of substandard drugs can lead to severe health effects like kidney damage if they are used over a long period of time. The drugs can also lead to antibiotic resistance.
The World Health Organisation estimates that around 116,000 deaths in Sub Saharan Africa occur due to consuming substandard drugs. The most common type of substandard medicines includes emergency contraceptive pills and antimalarial drugs.