The Botswana Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Manufacturers Association (BOPHARMA) has hailed Regulatory harmonisation of medicines in the SADC region, saying it will allow easy access of drugs ultimately eliminating counterfeit medicines in the region.
“As a country, we have felt the pinch of the absence of regulatory harmonization of medicines within the region as it has adversely affected patients,” said George Proctor, Chairman BOPHARMA.
“New medicines are being introduced and Batswana cannot access them because of the absence of harmonized regulations in the SADC region. Patients are travelling as far as South Africa in search of medicine and cannot bring it into the country but are forced to smuggle,” he said. In addition, Proctor said people are dying because of failure to access new medicines timely.
He said the SADC project that has been failing to materialize, aims to develop and implement a harmonized system for registration of medicines in the SADC Partner States; implement a common information management system for medicines registration in each of the Partner States.
Proctor attributed the big obstacle the region is faced with of counterfeit drugs to absence of registration harmonization of medicines in the region.
“This has promoted circulation of counterfeit drugs in the country,” he said.
An “epidemic” of counterfeit therapeutic drugs has swept through Botswana for some time now, threatening lives of thousands of citizens who are taking them under the mistaken belief that they are receiving vital treatment for their illnesses.
Speaking ahead of their workshop, which will be held on Tuesday (20 March), Proctor said regulation harmonization, if implemented, would improve public health by increasing rapid access to good quality, safe and effective medicines.
He said the time taken to register essential medicines for the treatment of communicable and non-communicable diseases will be abridged.
The African Medicines regulatory Harmonization (AMRH) initiative was created to assist African regions and countries in response to the challenges posed by medicines registration.
Proctor said should the initiative be implemented the same standards of quality, safety, and efficacy, drug availability will be realized in the region.