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Opinions of Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Columnist: Amenyo, Andrew

RE: Pressure mounts on Mahama to sack FDA board

The problems of under-development and massive corruption in Ghana in particular and Africa in general can be traced to leadership and institutional failures. The only way Ghana can eradicate corruption and the humiliating and dehumanising extreme poverty is to allow our institutions to perform their functions without undue interference. Furthermore, our institutions need the support of all Ghanaians to discharge their duties to the letter. It is most unfortunate that I have read only one article in support of the action taken by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) against Tobinco Pharmaceutical Company. From my little knowledge, I can say that all articles, especially the one written by a Pharmacist residing in the UK and the statement by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSG), against the FDA were misplaced and wholly unprofessional and selfish. The people who are calling on President Mahama to sack the FDA Board neither like themselves nor value their lives.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana and the Ghanaian pharmacist resident in the UK are only playing stomach politics with the life of Ghanaians. The pharmacists are breaching the oath they took to seek the welfare of patients by promoting the use of unapproved/unlicensed drugs. All the pharmacists especially the Government Hospital Pharmacists who purchased the unapproved/unlicensed drugs from Tobinco should have been suspended by now by their employers and referred to the Pharmacy Council for investigation into their fitness to practice. This was the main reason why the PSG issued that face-saving statement to protect its members against possible withdrawal of their PIN number (license to practice) by the Pharmacy Council. Their unprofessional behaviour could lead to huge claims in form of compensation on government and other employers by patients whom the drug was administered to.
The relationship between the Pharmacy Council, FDA and PSG on one hand can be likened to the relationship between the General Legal Council, the Bench (Judiciary) and the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) on the other hand. The technical personnel of FDA are pharmacists who are members of PSG. The work of FDA is to police the activities of pharmacists and chemists in the community and the healthcare sector and the pharmaceutical industries and companies which distribute drugs. In effect, the statement by PSG which sought to suggest their problem with FDA to be the latter’s refusal to allow them exert their influence on its work was unthoughtful and ridiculous. The PSG’s statement on the issue was an attempt to throw dust into the eyes of the unsuspecting lay general public to cover the dangerous professional misconduct of its members.
Food and Drugs and medical technologies that were approved by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) of America and were in use in America and other developed countries had to be tested and clinical trials carried out for years before the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence formerly called National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued its license of approval for their use in the UK. There were many instances when patients (mostly cancer patients), who had problem with the delay, took UK Government and Local Councils to court for the court to sanction prescription of unapproved drugs for them. The Minister for Health or Ministry of Health can play mediation role but should not attempt to interfere with the work of FDA.
I suppose that those who are questioning how the drug entered the country are not Ghanaians. The possibility of bribery and corruption cannot be ruled out. Usually, individuals and companies involved in drug distribution give money and other material gifts to pharmacists who promote and patronise (purchase) their drugs and other products. This financial inducement explains why the PSG jumped to the defence of Tobinco and the reluctance of head pharmacists to take their annual leaves from work.
There is no doubt that Tobinco will marshal all forces including the media war against FDA to protect its corporate image and to avoid prosecution and the pharmacists who patronised the unapproved drug thereby putting the lives of their patients at risk will do everything to save their job and their employers will also take necessary steps to avoid payment of compensation to the affected patients.
Andrew Amenyo
andrewamenyo@yahoo.co.uk