For the first time, a fixed amount award has been granted to the Liberian Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) to enable Promoting the Quality of Medicines (PQM) to support desperately needed medicines quality monitoring throughout the country. PQM’s work in the country stems from a collective effort between LMHRA and the Malaria National Control Program.
In early 2016, medicines quality monitoring took place in five (Montserrado, Bomi, Margibi, Bong, and Nimba) of Liberia’s 15 counties. Medicine samples were collected from private entities (pharmacies and stores), as well as from the public depositories. Samples were then tested at the national laboratory for efficacy. Of the 370 samples collected, 62 percent were anti-malarial medications. A staggering 46 percent of the samples failed rigorous quality control testing in the laboratory. As malaria is the leading cause of mortality in the country, such levels of poor quality medicines pose a serious threat to the health of the Liberian citizenry.
Though the importers of the substandard drugs could not be traced, a task force was created at each county level key, stakeholders were informed (local authorities, drug enforcement agency, health teams and hospitals), and statements warning the public were issued on the radio.
The higher rate of counterfeit and sub-standards medicines in Nimba and Bong counties is likely due to the proximity to nearby Guinea, where the borders are porous and less controlled. PQM’s next step is to join efforts across the region to combat the trafficking of counterfeit and sub-standards medicines in a comprehensive manner.
PQM’s work in medicines quality promotion in Liberia was noted in The New Dawn newspaper.
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