FDA Fines Pharmaceutical Company GH¢50,000 For Repackaging Unwholesome Drugs For Sale

The Foods and Drugs Authority (FDA) has imposed an administrative charge of GH¢50,000 on GB Pharma, a pharmaceutical company, for attempting to repackage drugs destroyed in the June 3 floods for distribution.

The fine also covered the company's operation of an unlicensed warehouse for medicine storage.

The directors of the company, which is into drug imports, would be made to sign an undertaken to be of good behaviour.

They have also been asked to refund GH¢10,600, being the cost incurred by the FDA in the destruction of four 20-footer and two 40-footer containers of drugs confiscated from the unlicensed warehouse on July 17, 2015.

The company’s officials, who have since been granted police enquiry bail for their roles in the repackaging of the contaminated medicines, would also face criminal prosecution after police investigations are completed.

A market dispatch vehicle which was at the warehouse to cart the products to the market was impounded by the police who accompanied the FDA team to the warehouse.

According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FDA, Mr Hudu Mogtari, officials of the company were caught by officers of the Drugs Enforcement Unit of the FDA repackaging drugs such as Gebedol, a diclofenac paracetamol (painkiller), Blocold, for the treatment of flu; Lumartem, an anti-malaria tablet; Nutracid, an antacid used for the treatment of stomach ulcers, among other drugs.

They were being repackaged by workers of the company when the team got to the premises.

Others such as Zipferon, Astyfer, Ranferon-12 and Asytym, all food supplements; Tacizol, a dewormer; vaginax, a vaginal cream for the treatment of vaginal candidae; Leorob, Eurovit, a multivitamin; Royal Skin Toner, a body cream, and Amiderm cream for the treatment of fungal infections, all estimated at GH¢200 million, according to Mr Mogtari, were contaminated following the June 3, 2015 downpour that flooded the company's warehouse.

The drugs which had since been destroyed, Mr Mogtari said, would have been dangerous to public health and safety if they had been allowed onto the market.

The CEO indicated that companies such as Starwin Products, East Cantonments Pharmacy, Ernest Chemist, Eskay Therapeutics, and Carel Logistics, whose warehouses also got flooded, notified the FDA which advised that the drugs should be discarded, following clinical tests which revealed that they had become unwholesome.

He wondered why GB Pharma could go all the way to move the products to an unknown warehouse for repackaging.

"What were they trying to hide by the operation at a secret warehouse?’’ Mr Mogtari queried.

Mr Mogtari said drugs exposed to flood waters might become contaminated and could lead to serious health complications in users, hence the need to discard them.

"Salvaging the drugs from the flood waters and repackaging them just to make profit is something the FDA will not tolerate," Mr Mogtari warned.

He said the market surveillance unit of the FDA would continue to monitor the company and others closely.

"We have put in place an aggressive monitoring mechanism to ensure immediate recall of the drugs in the market should our investigations and those of the police reveal their market existence," Me Mogtari added.

Drugs Warehouse Licensing
The head of the Market Surveillance Unit of the FDA, Mr Issaka Collison-Cofie, who led the operation, explained that the licensing of warehouses by the FDA was to ensure that companies had the capacity to store products being imported, as well as those produced locally.

He was of the view that the FDA should confiscate and destroy products found to have been stored in unregistered warehouses.