Food and Drug Board detects fake anti-malaria drug

09 Jul 2009
Ghana News Agency
The Kumasi zonal office of the Foods and Drugs Board (FDB) has announced the presence of counterfeit coartem tablets, a brand of Artemeter- Lumefantrin anti-malaria drug, on the market in Kumasi.

The FDB has warned the public not to patronize the fake drug which has been found not to contain the active ingredients as has been stated on the label and package and thus has the potential of posing serious health hazards to its users.

Briefing a section of the press in Kumasi on Thursday, Mr. Joseph Yaw-Bernie Bennie, the Kumasi Zonal Officer, said his office has seized the drugs from some wholesale and retail pharmacies involved in its distribution and sale.

He mentioned the following wholesale and retail pharmacies as well as licensed chemical sellers in the metropolis as the ones distributing and offering for sale the counterfeit Coartem with batch numbers X0089 and M1200.

They are Salom Pharmacy Limited (Kejetia), Habmay Pharmacy Limited (Asafo), Pharmax Ghana Limited, (Bantama), New Tafo), Edikay Pharmacy, (Buokrom Estates), Tracmar Pharmacy (Anwomaso), Fredimens (KO-Ashtown).

The Licensed Chemical Sellers are Martin Owusu Licensed Chemical Seller (Tanoso), Augustine Evans Adu Chemical Shop (Old Tafo).

He expressed dismay that certain individuals have decided to undermine national efforts to treat malaria, now a pandemic, by importing and distributing the counterfeit.

A drug recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) under the Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT) concept of malaria treatment has proved to be the most effective.

Mr. Bennie said while the original coartem manufactured in Switzerland has a yellow and white box containing four strips of the yellow tablet with six on each strip, the fake has a deceptively smaller box containing three strips with eight of the tablet on each strip.

He said though the office had not yet received any report on adverse effects of the drug, with its fake status, the drug is likely to cause adverse effects and pose a menace to users.

The FDB officer said though a multi-sector approach adopted last year to revamp mechanisms to enhance earlier detection on the open market has yielded positive results, a few of counterfeit drugs still find their way into the country.