TMDA uncovers regions selling illegal health commodities

DAR ES SALAAM: TANZANIA Medicines and Medical Devices Authority (TMDA) has named Dar es Salaam, Lindi, Ruvuma and Simiyu as hotspots for the illegal sale of government medicines and medical supplies.

Speaking to journalists in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday, TMDA Director General, Mr Adam Fimbo, said that the health commodities bearing special labels such as “For GOV-TZ-NOT FOR SALE” were found to be sold in pharmacies and private health institutions in the areas.

The news follows a report regarding a special operation conducted from   November 20 to 24 this year in Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Morogoro, Kigoma, Katavi, Mwanza, Simiyu, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Mbeya, Songwe, Lindi and Ruvuma regions to search for government-owned medicines, counterfeit, substandard, and unregistered medicines and medical devices.

“The aforementioned regions were chosen through a combination of intelligence data from regulatory authorities and records of past TMDA inspection outcomes,” he said.

Additionally, he disclosed that in all seven zones, unregistered medical devices worth approximately 17.6m/- and unlicensed medicines worth an estimated 133m/-were seized.

He also added that, during the operation, private health centres and pharmaceutical stores were found to contain government-owned medical equipment and devices valued at over 11m/-.

Some of those medical devices are the IV cannulas G21, G20, G22, Bioline Malaria Ag, Bioline HIV 3.0z, Hemocue Glucose 201, Microcuvettes, Hemocue Hb2021 and Analyser. These devices were seized in the Eastern Region and the Central Region.

Either way, expired medicine with an estimated value of over 9m/-, including expired medical devices worth 10.3m/-, was seized after being found in medical stores without being separated according to the procedure.

In line with that, counterfeit medicines worth 5.8m/- were seized, with the Southern Highlands regions being the leader, followed by the Western regions.

“Some counterfeit medications that were found were Homidium Chloride 250mg BP, Homidium Injection, and Bupanor Injection, which are all used in veterinary services,” he explained.

The investigation also showed that harmful medications like pethidine were being sold covertly in several locations.

According to him, the operation’s success was a result of the TMDA putting in place suitable mechanisms and effective controls to find the products in the market.

He said that the measures include a product registration system, a post-marketing surveillance (PMS) programme, an import and export control system, an inspection and enforcement system and a whistle-blowing policy or system, among others.

Elaborating on the steps taken, he said that all of the suspects who were apprehended and discovered to have been actively involved in those mischievous activities have been brought to the law enforcement authorities.

He noted that several police stations are currently going through the process of bringing the accused to court after a total of 13 files were lodged against them.

“And for those whose offences did not require court action, they have been assessed fines totaling more than 100m/-,” he added.

Other measures are removing and burning the seized pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, as well as ordering an unlicensed shop to close their operation, among others.

The registrar of the Pharmacy Council of Tanzania (PCT), Elizabeth Shekalaghe, recommended that pharmacy owners and the general public receive continuous education on how to do business in compliance with the Medicines and Medical Devices Act, Chapter 219.

Deputy Commissioner of Police CID Daniel Nyambabe issued a warning to everyone involved in mischievous activities to stop right away because doing so puts the community’s health in jeopardy and denies people access to healthcare.

“The government will keep searching for anyone operating an unlawful business in line with the law and will take strong action against them,” he stressed.

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