The World Health Organization (WHO) says that substandard and falsified medicines pose a major threat to the public health and socio-economic development mostly in low and middle income countries like Uganda, Rwanda and Congo, among others.
Substandard medical products are those that fail to meet either the quality standards or specifications and falsification refers to deliberate misrepresentation of drugs identity.
The World Health Organization estimated that over 10 per cent of these medicines in poor countries fail to meet internationally recognized quality standards with sub- Saharan Africa being the most and badly affected.
However, the government of Uganda has come out to give a strong warning to all the women across the country on dangers of using the fake Postinor-2 drugs that are being supplied on the market by different people who are after making money.
These drugs or tablets (Postinor-2 tablets) which are very well known as Morning After Pills used by women to avoid getting pregnant are commonly used by young girls and women between age 18-30.
Now, according to National Drug Authority (NDA), ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), many of these fake Postinor tablets are widely sold on the market and many Uganda lives are at high risk because many Ugandans don’t bother to check whether drugs are original or not.
According to Nasser Lubowa, the head of post-market surveillance at NDA, local technical representatives (LTRs) or distributors of manufacturing companies are frustrating their fight against poor quality products.
The National Drug Authority is putting in place a strong implementation of recalls by LTR of manufacturers. Upon a recall, the LTR is required to gather the drugs from all pharmacists or other chains of distributors they have sold the products at their own cost, according to information from NDA.
“These fake Postinor drugs have since been circulated in pharmacies, clinics and dispensaries across the country, and many Ugandans are buying and using them unknowingly. The fake Postinor 2 have maize flour in them. And the real one has the actual drug,” Lubowa told the press on Monday morning during the launch of Communication Campaign against Substandard and Falsified Medicine.
He added, “In a bid to protect the lives of Ugandans, the Uganda National Drug Authority launched a program in line to eliminate substandard products such as this Postinor-2 which is very common and widely used by many young ladies and girls.”
Postinor-2 is an emergency contraceptive only. Postinor-2 is not intended as a regular method of contraception. At least 95 per cent of expected pregnancies will be prevented if taken within the first 24 hours, declining to 58 per cent if taken between 48 hours and 72 hours after unprotected intercourse.
It is not known whether Postinor-2 is effective if taken more than 72 hours after unprotected intercourse. Speaking at the launch, Robinah Kaitiritimba, who is the executive director of the Uganda National Health Consumers Organization, said the NDA surveillance and enforcement is inadequate to effectively tackle the problem because they still have a lot of drug resistance problems.
Dr Joseph Mwoga, the World Health Organization pharmaceutical official for Uganda, urged the Ugandan government to increase program sensitization on the dangers and how to avoid falsified or substandard medicines.
Mwoga has also warned the public to refrain from buying and using medicines not properly prescribed by competent authorities for any therapeutic purposes in order to avoid endangering one’s health, he concluded.