West Demerara District Regional Health Officer (RHO), yesterday, disclosed that he will be working in close collaboration with the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department to address the issue of ‘free for all’ distribution of drugs to the public by pharmacies operating on the Westside.
Addressing the issue yesterday, Mc Watt said that the issue is one that requires urgent attention, emphasising the health risks persons can face when they are allowed to diagnose themselves and receive medication for proposed illnesses which are not certified by a doctor’s prescription or hospital referral.
Yesterday, Mc Watt noted that a recent survey conducted in an extensive area showed that only one pharmacy was adhering to International Food and Drug policies as required by law.
He expressed grave concern yesterday over the risks persons are taking on creating their own diagnosis, without no medical experience to correctly ascertain same.
He added that while guilty pharmacists are putting persons at risk by allowing this practice, they are also heightening the risking of patients receiving the wrong medication since their conditions might be totally the opposite of what they might be proclaiming.
He explained that in such cases, persons accessing treatment in the ‘free for all’ over the counter manner, can directly contribute to serious bodily harm and even death as a result of ingesting the wrong drug or treatment for any specific condition.
McWatt indicated that he will be working closely with the Government Analyst Food and Drug entity to track down pharmacies on the Westside, indulging in this unlawful practice, and guilty operators will be severely penalised by the relevant authorities.
Over the weekend there were visits to pharmacies at Vreed-en-Hoop, West Bank Demerara, Parika, Goed Fortuin and other villages, to obtain medication for varying suggested ailments and was shocked to discover that one was actually able to easily access antibiotics and other drugs that according to law, can only be issued with a prescription.
All that had to be done was to ask for the manager, whisper whatever ailment came to mind, and wait to collect practically any medication that would have been readily handed over.
Mc Watt intends to ensure the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department conducts inspections to ensure that pharmacists operating along the West Demerara District are legally licensed to operate, and also to enforce that they are indeed operating within the confines of the law.
There are reports that some pharmacies in the West Demerara District are even staffed with backup employees who are not certified to work in such entities. This is another issue Mc Watt intends to address in his bid to ensure citizens are not put at risk when soliciting medical attention.
The Government Analyst- Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD) has announced that all drugs imported into Guyana must be registered with the Department in compliance with a New Drug Registration requirement, Food and Drug Act Chap 34:03-Regulations 1977, Regulation 78.
The Department is reliant on full drug assessment for safety, efficacy and quality from the listed reference authorities such as the United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia.
This is according to Food and Drug Regulations No. 10 of 1977 Cap. (34:03), Part III, Regulation 78: 2 (K).
Characteristics of the drugs assessed are the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (A.P.I), Clinical trials, Bioavailability, Stability, Bioequivalence inter-alia.
In cases where UK, US, Canada and Australia compliance are not met, the department would be reliant on PAHO/WHO system of prequalification/recommendation from recognized reference authorities via the Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS), a statement from the Department said.
The Government Analyst Food and Drug Department not so long ago stated that consumers are advised to purchase drugs- Prescription and over the counter medicines that are adequately labelled according to the Food and Drug Regulation 18, having a Brand and Generic Name, the list of ingredients, storage instructions, Expiry Date, the Address of Manufacturer, the Country of Origin and this information must be the English Language.
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