MoPH to tighten control on medicines’ quality

KABUL (Pajhwok): The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Tuesday said it would install five new laboratories to test quality of imported medicines.

MoPH officials said around 10,000 drug stores were run without pharmacists and 93 percent of medicines were imported to the country without their quality being checked.

They urged 450 domestic and foreign companies importing medicines to obtain operation license within next 10 days or their operations would be accounted as crime.

Activities without license

Public Health Minister Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz, speaking at a conference ‘A look to performance and achievements of National Medical Products Authority (NMPA)’ here, said 250 drugs importing companies and 200 foreign companies whose medicines were sold in Afghanistanwere operating without obtaining license from the ministry.

He said the companies’ owners were required to obtain the license within next 10 days or their activities would be accounted as crime and the companies would be sealed.

MoPH officials said around 300 drugs companies were currently active across the country and the ministry has signed a cooperation agreement with Iran, Pakistan, India and China, the biggest exporters of medicines to Afghanistan, last year.

Based on the agreement, these countries are cooperating with Afghanistan in identifying companies that produce low quality medicines, blacklisted and operating without license, Feroz said.

The minister said the licenses of 800 drugs companies that were inactive had been cancelled during the last one year.

Controlling medicines’ prices

The public health minister said people in different areas of the country had complained about high medicine prices.

Feroz said the MoPH had developed a plan for controlling medicines’ prices. The plan would be shared with the private sector, he said, but stopped short of going into details.

Six types of drugs produced inside the country

According to Feroz, 95 percent of all medicines in markets are imported while five percent or six types of the medicines are produced inside the country. He said the drugs produced domestically were of high quality and the ministry was supporting the national products.

“We will ban imports of medicines which are produced inside the country in future. We will address the problem of smuggling medicines to the country with your (participants) advises,” he said.

Low quality drugs

Dr. Noor Shah Kamawal, NMPA head, who attended the conference, said the quality of only seven percent of all medicines was checked due to the absence of enough laboratories in the country.

He said only one laboratory for controlling drugs was available in capital Kabul.

However, he said more laboratories would be activated in Kabul, Nangarhar, Balkh, Herat and Kandahar provinces in the next one year to make sure quality medicines were imported to the country, he added.

He said installation of the five new laboratories would cost $7.5 million to be paid from the government’s budget.

On the other hand, Dr. Feroz confirmed receiving complaints about low quality medicines imported to the country by the private sector. But he said the private sector had pledged to cooperate with the ministry in activating laboratories for drugs’ quality control.

Drug stores without pharmacists

The public health minister said 14,000 drug stores and 4,000 pharmacists existed in the country, showing 10,000 drug stores were being run without pharmacists.

“Allowing only those who have received at least two years of education in pharmacy to work in drug stores and tightening control in rural areas can resolve the problem”, he said.

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