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Uganda Tries to Curb Availability of Fake Drugs

The sale of counterfeit drugs has reached extremely high volumes in the developing world. Some countries are taking steps to address the problem. In Uganda, for instance, the government has authorized the National Drug Authority to fight this issue.

Dr. David Mukanga is a pharmacist and public health specialist in Kampala, Uganda. He told Voice of America English to Africa reporter Douglas Mpuga that in the last few years regulation has been improving, making it difficult to import drugs without authorization. He said, however, it is still a problem because the authorization process to import drugs can be hindered by bureaucratic red tape. Dr Mukanga says due to the small number of doctors and pharmacists, it is equally difficult to require people to acquire drugs through legal channels.

“To say you can only get medications only from a pharmacist would be unfair.” He added “…similarly if you require one to have a prescription to get medicine in a country with so few doctors would not be easy.”

He called for a phased implementation with the condition that prescriptions are issued by doctors and drugs are obtained only from pharmacists. It is difficult to enforce the requirement that patients only buy drugs with a prescription. “There are parts of this country where you would have to travel for say fifty kilometers to find a doctor or pharmacist,” he said.

Dr. Mukanga would like to see the rampant cross border counterfeit drug trade come to an end and calls for cooperation between governments. “There are instances where counterfeit drugs are smuggled in across the border from Rwanda into Uganda, from DRC into Uganda and vice versa.” He called for a regional framework to regulate the movement and sale of counterfeit drugs.

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