Pharmacies under investigation over fake malaria drugs

KIGALI - Health authorities have started countrywide investigations of all pharmacies over reported fake malaria drugs on the market. The aim is to establish authenticity of media reports in Uganda that a recent study by US scientists indicated that fake malaria medication was on sale in Rwanda.
The Government has launched a probe into malaria drugs on the market.
The Government has launched a probe into malaria drugs on the market.

KIGALI - Health authorities have started countrywide investigations of all pharmacies over reported fake malaria drugs on the market. The aim is to establish authenticity of media reports in Uganda that a recent study by US scientists indicated that fake malaria medication was on sale in Rwanda.

The Director of Pharmacies in the Ministry of Health, Viateur Mutanguha, confirmed Monday that extensive inspection of all malaria drugs was underway.

“We want to identify the credibility of the research,” Mutanguha underscored.

The New Vision paper recently said that researchers wrote in the online journal Public Library of Science that 33% of substandard malaria drugs are on Rwandan market.

Similar study was reportedly done in Kenya appeared to have the highest (38%) followed by Uganda and Ghana (35%), Tanzania and Nigeria (32%).

The drugs allegedly tested by researchers in these countries were Amodiaqine known as Camaquin, Artesunate; but Mutanguha said such drugs are no longer on the market here.

Others sampled in the study include sulfadoxine-pyromethamine usually known as Fansidar, Artemether-Lumefantrine also known as Coartem and Mefloquine.

Except for Fansidar which is soon to be banned, the health official said that the other two drugs (Coartem and Mefloquine) are imported under our quality assurance guidelines.

“All imported medications pass through our control procedures. Dealers first provide us with proforma invoices listing the kind of drugs they propose to import” he said.

“They also to present us with copies of certificates of standard analysis, and about the firm producing the drug,” he explained.

However, Mutanguha expressed lack of a high-tech laboratory for thorough verification (quality control) of drug quality which manufacturers propose.

He called for the boosting of Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) laboratory equipment to ensure that the drug quality which producers indicate is easily detected.

Regardless of fake malaria drug claims, Rwanda was ranked first by the World Health Organization (WHO) this year among African countries doing well in the fight against Malaria.

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