Malawi to flush out illegal medical drug vendors

The Malawi Pharmacy and Poison’s Board has embarked on an inspection campaign aimed at flushing out all vendors selling medical drugs without licenses.

Malawi Pharmacy and Poison’s Board (MPPB) Acting Registrar, Wilford Matiya disclosed this in an interview with the Malawi News Agency (Mana). He said the exercise has been initiated after the board discovered that there are a number of unregistered medical drug vendors on the market.

“As a Board, we are aware of the unregistered traders who have rocked our streets in the cities, towns and other locations across the country selling medical drugs illegally which is harmful to people’s lives as most of the drugs sold are expired.

Street vendors have a number of different medicines in stock (prescription and non-prescription) .

“We are not sitting back to allow the illegal vendors to sell and possess drugs contrary to the Board’s rules which puts people’s lives at risk. The Board in collaboration with the Malawi Police Service (MPS) is carrying out various activities with teams of personnel deployed all over to trace and arrest all the culprits,” said Matiya.

Matiya however noted that the exercise needed concerted effort from the citizenry if it has to bear fruits.

“We cannot deal with the traders if the general public is hiding the illegal vendors in their locations. And I believe we can only win the battle if the general public cooperates by informing the police whenever they see illegal drug vendors besides stopping buying the drugs from such people,” he said.

He therefore appealed to all the people to take responsibility of their lives by buying drugs from registered traders like pharmacies.

According to Matiya, even though the Board is trying everything possible to deal with the culprits, their efforts mostly prove futile as the general public continues buying drugs from the illegal vendors.

“The only remedy is to civic educate the people both in the cities and towns about the dangers of buying medical drugs from unregistered vendors,” proposed Matiya.

A street vendor who sells medical drugs in Blantyre city and opted for anonymity said they do not see any problem in selling medical drugs because they are assisting the communities who cannot walk long distances to acquire medical treatment in hospitals, and again help those who cannot afford to buy the drugs from pharmacies.

“Most customers claim that the pharmacies sell drugs at higher prices which many cannot afford. As such, they resort to buying from us,” said the vendor.

He further said they are not only concerned with money but also assisting the people. The medical drug vendor admitted he does not know much about expiry date, quality and safety of the drugs provided he makes money.

In Malawi, for traders to start selling medical drugs, they must get a license from the Malawi Pharmacy and Poison’s Board. However, of late there have been a number of people who sell the medical drugs illegally contrary to section 35 subsection 4 of the Pharmacy, Medicine and Poison Act.

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