HUYE — CAMERWA, the agency charged with procurement and distribution of drugs in the country is stuck with stocks of expired drugs, its Director General, Ambassador Zephyr Mutanguha has said.
The agency according to officials is in consultations with the Rwanda Environmental Management Agency (REMA) and the Ministry of Health to find a solution to the problem.
In an interview with The New Times over the weekend Ambassador Mutanguha said that the country lacks a proper incinerator to dispose off expired drugs.
He said, “We have stock-piles of expired drugs that need to be destroyed but the only incinerator at the University Teaching Hospital (CHUK) in Kigali cannot handle the large quantities of drugs that need to be disposed.”
Mutanguha explained that the problem of expired drugs arises because of the change in demand of particular drugs or lack of authentic information about the required quantities of drugs needed during the procurement process.
“We rely on information from the ground concerning quantities to procure, sometimes this information is not exact and there situations where doctors change prescriptions. This means that drugs not used will expire in our stores,” said Mutanguha, adding that some drugs procured have a short shelf life.
He however, said that measures have been put in place to address the problem.
“We now give international open tenders where potential suppliers have to have World Health Organisation certification. All drugs imported need to have a long shelf life of about 85 percent,” said Mutanguha.
Commenting on the possibility of having expired drugs on the open market, Ambassador Mutanguha said that the problem may be caused due to absence of a national drug authority to regulate- which he described as unfortunate.
“A national drug authority to act as a regulatory agency is needed in the country. The draft Law setting it up is before parliament but it has dragged on for long. It is important that we have this regulatory agency in place so as to ensure that medicine Rwandans consume is of high quality,” he said.
Mutanguha revealed that plans are underway to improve the capacity of Rwanda’s only pharmaceutical factory –LABOPHAR to produce essential drugs.
“Seven companies have decided to pull resources so as to invest in pharmaceutical production. They have commissioned a study to see how best they can have production which is going to be professional and competitive,” said Mutanguha.
“For strategic reasons, it is high time Rwanda starts producing medicine which is going to be sustainable because we can not always rely on importations,” he said.
Companies are; medical insurance providers, RAMA and MMI, the Social Security Fund of Rwanda, CAMERWA, Tri-star, Rwanda Investment group and BUFMAR.