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Opinions of Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Columnist: Ofosu-Appiah, Ben

Stop These Fake and Counterfeit Drugs From The Market Now: FDB

These Counterfeit And Fake Drugs On The Market Now !!!
One of the major public health scares
in Ghana today is the flooding of the pharmaceutical market with fake medicine
which the Food and Drugs Board seems to have no answer. In Ghana today simply
taking a pill to cure an illness can be suicidal.

“ Will the medication be what it says it is, made by a reputable company? Or
will it be a clever copy that looks virtually indistinguishable, but contains a
sugar pill at best - or, at worst, something like the tainted teething syrup
that killed at least 80 babies in 2009?”

I got sickened by popping an anti malaria drug in Ghana last year after
visiting and didn’t want to catch malaria so I decided to go to a drug store on
Spintex Road (name withheld) to buy an anti malaria dug for preventive
purposes. After taking the drug, I
developed high fever with my body temperature soaring to 40 degrees, sweating
profusely and started to vomit. Further tests revealed that the anti malaria
drug was fake! I wonder if a child had taken it what would have happened. The
scope of the of the problem is huge in Ghana as well as the rest of Africa
where studies suggest that as much as about 40% of all malaria drugs are fake,
and other counterfeit drugs are rampant on the market.
It is in the light of this that
I read with delight the news that a new company formed by one of our own, a Ghanaian
doctor by name Ashifi Gogo is on the
rescue. His company Sproxil Inc. based in Cambridge is helping customers in these
countries distinguish
genuine medicines from fakes. Using a system it calls mobile product
authentication, Sproxil allows customers to text a number on the package to
confirm or refute the drug’s authenticity. The process “is designed to use the
abundance of cellphones to empower the consumers to avoid purchasing fake
products,’’ said company founder Ashifi Gogo. “This way, they can reestablish
trust between the consumer and the pharmacy.’’

“This is a hugely innovative idea that we think could be a real game changer in
terms of how pharmaceuticals are delivered,’’ said one investor involved with this
Given the seemingly inaction of governments in Africa to protect its citizens
and the network of corruption in government and government agencies that are
supposed to monitor that fake drugs don’t come in entering into deals to fill
their pockets at the expense of the safety of their fellow citizens, such initiative
from private business helps a lot.
I have written on the danger
that such fake drugs pose to public health and the risk it further poses in
sinking our fragile health care system if we don’t act quickly and decisively
against it. Every year in the developing world alone over 700,000 deaths are
reported from fake drugs and this is equivalent to a jumbo jet full of people
going down every day. We need to wage a global war on his senseless greed.
I am reproducing an article I
wrote on the same subject a few years ago here for the benefit of readers
because the situation hasn’t changed since then:
came across this exchange on a very
important national issue which I have written on before and which is still dear
to my heart on ghanaweb's Say It Loud Forum and I like bringing it here for the
attention of all. Indeed it is the nation's health which is at stake here. The
Issue of fake and counterfeit drugs on the market is impacting negatively on
the health of our nation and bringing the health services into disrepute. It is
absolutely disgusting to learn that those who are entrusted with protecting our
health are rather condoning and conniving with fake drug manufacturers,
importers and exporters to kill us. Now read on:

Author: Dr. Red Hot (
Date: 03-28-2007 12:57

Where is the Ghana Standards Board? Do we have a National Agency for Food and
Drugs Administration in Ghana? Does the Ministry of Health care? Please, this
is a serious public health issue. Somebody must act NOW to protect the nation's
health. There are too many fake drugs and counterfeit medicine on the market
now and it is killing thousands of people on daily basis.

It takes courage and determination to fight corruption but it looks like the
present administration has none of these. The corrupt practices in the
manufacturing , import and export of drugs, cosmetics and food products need to
be tackled with all seriousness now. Counterfeit drugs is a leading cost of
death by stroke and heart failure in Ghana. The government needs to prosecute
illegal drug traders and impose strict standards on multinationals companies
and their local collaborators. Currently, an ampicillin anti-biotic on the
market purportedly made by Ipca Laboratories Limited for Phyto Riker (GIHOC)
Pharmaceuticals, Ltd. HO 45, Wall Street, New York, USA is fake and does not
contain enough ampicillin genules . Its safety is suspect and I wonder who
approved it for sale in Ghana. What tests were conducted and what are the test
results. I sent some for analysis and it is completely fake and outright
dangerous to the public health but they are being offered for sale in the open
market in all drug stores in the country. The Ministry of Health and the
government must declare war on this fake drugs manufacturers , importers and
exporters and their local agents.

Even Nigeria of all places is clamping down on fake and counterfeit drugs and
as a result , these importers and exporters and fake drug manufacturers are
dumping their products in Ghana. A classical case is ROBB made by PZ Nigeria
Limited, 33 Planning Office Way, ILUPEJU which is currently available in Ghana
on the market in large quanties. Get one of these and compare it with the ROBB
made in Ghana, and immediately you will see the difference. The Nigerian ROBB
does not contain the right amount of Menthol, Methyl sal, and Camphor. It is
basically grease put in a Robb container and being sold as Robb to unsuspecting
Ghanaians. It is dangerous. Yet we have a government that is supposed to check
on the safety of drugs, cosmetics and food products on the market to save and
protect its citizens and the national health.

kewe (

Date: 03-29-2007 08:32


Dr. Red Hot

Date: 03-29-2007 08:53

Kewe: I can't believe it if the Ministry of Health is in league with these fake
drugs manufacturers for fees to line their own pockets. .... The Ministry of
Health and the Ghana Standards Board are there to protect the National health ,
aren't they?

Author: kewe (

Date: 03-29-2007 10:15

Dr. Red Hot, The Ministry of Health and the Ghana Standards Board's first priority
is to line their pockets to the detriment of the nation. My earlier assertion
is true. They collaborate with the Fake Drug Manufacturers and pass the drugs
as safe for a large fee. This happens all over Africa because of corrupt
governance. My friend, a London trained pharmacist who was employed by the
Ghana Standards Board a few years ago, had to quit his job for fear of his life
when his analysis of drugs imported into the country by MOH proved to be sub
standard. He was asked to alter the results of his test to make his analysis
authentic but he resisted. He kept having all sorts of visitors (including a
gov. minister, top officials of the Ministry of Health/Standard Board and even
a senior pharmacology lecturer from UST) calling at his house at night trying
to persuade and putting pressure on him to alter his evidence. His conscience
would not allow him to collaborate with them and he eventually left his
position and came back to the UK where he is currently working for a pharmaceutical

Author: Logozo (
Date: 03-28-2007 14:50

Dr. Red Hot, you raise a very important point and need to do your duty as a
citizen to call the ministry of health and speak to who is in charge.
Bioavailability studies for all generic drugs need to be performed before it is
approved OK. The problem is that the drugs are being smuggled into the country
as such, they bypass inspection or scrutiny by the board. You're right, the
government must reconsider the priority being given to this matter. This is a
massive problem.

May all beings be at ease-


Author: Dr. Red Hot ( Date: 03-29-2007 09:06

A criminal gang of hoodlums and nation wreckers are in control and are about to
wreck havoc on the country. Remember, they take their kin out of the country
for treatment against such simple ailments as headache. They don't care about
you. in anything, or make anything especially food, medicine, cosmetics etc and
offer them for sale without checking the safety of the products. The government
needs to revamp the Standards Board to be able to perform its watchdog role
effectively. What Kewe wrote about above of a collaboration between and among
the Ministry of Health, Standards Board, and some leading politicians and
pharmacologists need to be investigated.


Tokyo Japan.

author is a political and social analyst based in Tokyo, Japan. He welcomes
your comments and contributions in the fight against social injustice and
political corruption.