Meds for poor smuggled to private pharmacies


Officials from the Food, Medicine and Health Care Administration and Authority (FMHACA), says medicines for serious illnesses like malaria are being stolen from pharmacies at government hospitals and sold for three times the original amount in private pharmacies.
According to sources, private pharmacies are illegally selling government subsidized pharmaceutical drugs meant to be provided for free to patients at government hospitals. The source added that subsidized medicine sold for a low price in government pharmacies is being smuggled to private pharmacies.
“After the Ethiopian Pharmaceuticals Supply Agency (EPSA) gives the drugs to the government pharmacies there is not a reliable method to check and make sure the drugs are getting to the patients at those hospitals. Instead brokers at government pharmacies illegally sell the drugs to private pharmacies.’’
Heran Gerba, Director of FMHACA told Capital that the hospitals need to work harder to stop illegal medicine sales. Regulations are not being enforced, there is little inter-agency cooperation among law enforcement the border control is porous.
“Sometimes these drugs are only available at private pharmacies. Our job is to check the quality and effectiveness of the drugs not to check whether hospitals are selling them to the right people. This is up to the hospital administrations. Pharmacies are audited and an electronic system helps guard against misconduct. Every administration and region should follow up with the hospitals and use this system.”
Proclamation 661/2009 says people or institutions can not work in the pharmaceutical business, unless they are authorized or licensed. Trading medicine without a certificate of competence can lead to 5 to 7 years in prison and 100,000 to 150,000 birr fine. Yet, people still sell and import drugs without a license. Often this is accomplished by bribing inspectors, customs agents or medical regulatory bodies.