The Pharmaceutical Society of Malawi (Phasom) has said government through the Ministry of Justice should consider passing into law the amended Pharmacy Act, which Parliament recommended in 2006 and was approved by Cabinet.
The Bill, though approved by Cabinet, has not yet been presented to Parliament for approval.
Phasom president Cosmas Sawamba, in a press statement dated February 6, said currently, the pharmacy regulatory body (the Pharmacy, Medicines and Poisons Board) is using an outdated act, which was passed by Parliament in 1988.
“The outdated Act bears those penalties, which President Joyce Banda quotes as being lenient and so unlikely, to deter drug pilferages in the present times. The society believes that responsible stakeholders will urgently and seriously consider passing the Bill to deter would-be offenders in issues of drug misappropriations,” said Sawamba.
The society’s concern comes after a series of malpractices by pharmacy technicians in various district hospitals of the country, who they said get a minimal sentence in the end compared to the damage they cause to the health system.
Sawamba said the society agrees with the President on the need to put up a system that would check drug theft in public hospitals as lack of funding, long bureaucratic procurement systems, centralised health systems and use of intermediaries to buy drugs are indeed some of the reasons the country is facing drug shortages.
The society further wants full involvement of the pharmaceutical sector in all stages of drug supply chain, which include selection, distribution and use of medicines.
“In most countries, the pharmaceutical sector plays a pivotal role in the issues of availability and proper management of medicines. The society understands that due to lack of pharmacists in the country for the past years, it was very hard to practically involve the pharmaceutical sector in the management of medicines in the country.
“Malawians, the government and all sectors involved should realise that even in the abundance of funding for medicines, without full involvement of the pharmacists [the professionals] in all the supply chain stages, issues of poor drug management will continue to significantly contribute to drug shortages in Malawi,” said Sawamba in the statement.