Liberia: LMHPRA Warns Public against Buying Drugs from People Selling in Buckets

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MONROVIA – The open sale of drugs both traditional and pharmaceutical by unregistered outlets is a major concern in Liberia.

A constant shortage of medicines in government hospitals and clinics has stimulated the growth of informal drug markets all over the country.

Meanwhile, the sale of traditional medicine, which often comes in the form of unprocessed roots, leaves and other products, is completely unregulated.is a crime to sell medicines in the street without a license. Inspectors from Liberia’s Pharmaceutical Board have been combing the countryside looking for drugs.

Liberia Medicine Health Regulatory Authority, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Health is mandated to ensure the quality, safety and efficacy of medicines and health products used in Liberia but unapproved drugs are still widely available.

In an interview with Madam  Keturah Smith, managing director of the LMHRA, she said, it’s illegal to sell medicine in that manner and form but if the buyers are not inform they will go after these drugs and that is why awareness is necessary.

“We have our inspectors on the field once you are caught selling in the buckets your drugs or goods are confiscated and not given back that is as far as our power can go be don’t have power to imprison people.”

She also named mobility, and Human resources as some of the few challenges face by the LMHRA. The LAB is somehow challenge in terms of human resources our experts are under staff. We are trying to reach out to through jingles and billboards, it is difficult but we are getting there.

Currently Liberia has more than 150 pharmacists and over 300 pharmacies in the country.

In communities there are drugstores and vendors usually operate them illegally or without trained medical personnel, mostly in slum communities.

 Occasionally, LMHRA carries out sweeps in partnership with the police to rid the market of illegal drugs. Sometimes, traders are let off with a warning.

Repeat offenders are arrested but no prosecution yet for those caught including selling drugs without a license, selling prescription-only drugs to people without prescriptions and selling unapproved drugs.

Budgetary constraints remain a problem in enforcement to curb the drugs entering the country illegally. Right now, LMHRA solely rely on the custom officers to curb the import of counterfeit or fake drugs, he says.

A 2013 government report attributed that to inadequate funding, weak regulatory framework and weaknesses in the procurement, distribution logistics and storage management systems.

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