Dr William Adum Addo (right), President, Pharmaceutical Importers and Wholesalers Association, speaking to the media
Dr William Adum Addo (right), President, Pharmaceutical Importers and Wholesalers Association, speaking to the media

Don’t restrict import of pharmaceutical drugs - Importers to govt

Major players in the pharmaceutical industry in Ghana want the Ministry of Health (MoH) to immediately suspend the impending move to stop the importation of about 142 medicines into the country.


They contend that the ministry was pushing to activate Executive Instrument (E.I) 2023 on the Restriction of Medicines, a development that will cause more harm than good for the country.

Among the key medicines the ministry intends to stop their importation are those meant for the treatment of basic but life-threatening conditions such as high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, malaria and other emergencies including pain.

Some of the common brands are Amlodipine, Bisoprolol, Losartan, Metformin, Glimeperide, Atorvastatin, Artemether/Lumefantrine, Isoflurane, Paracetamol infusion and levofloxacin infusion.

The MoH is proposing a new E.I., aiming to immediately restrict an additional 142 products in three schedules as part of its efforts to promote local production of medicines and pharmaceutical products, with the ultimate goal of positioning Ghana as the pharmaceutical hub of West Africa.

The first restriction on the importation of medicines for local-manufacture-only happened some years ago with 27 products.

Subsequently in 2016, pursuant to E.I. 181, the importation of 49 products were again restricted for local manufacture.

According to the importers, the proposed expansion of the restricted list without adequate local production capacity will only pose serious health risks for Ghanaians, cripple the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), destabilise the medicine security of the nation as this will lead to preventable shortages which will also lead to higher price hikes across the country.

To them, the restriction should be limited only to the 38 pharmaceutical products recommended by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) as they are backed by the necessary regulatory support.

Again, they want the ministry to have a broader engagement with key stakeholders including policy makers, service providers, manufacturers, regulators, importers, research centres, practitioners and Ghanaians as a whole for their perspectives and inputs on the intended decision.

Negative impact

Last Tuesday, the President of Pharmaceutical Importers and Wholesalers Association of Ghana (PIWA), Dr William Adum Addo, who together with members of the Ghana National Chamber of Pharmacy (GNCoP), addressed a news conference in Accra, said the new proposed list would undoubtedly have serious ramifications on the country’s health sector.

The event was to inform Ghanaians of some emerging developments in the country’s pharmaceutical sector.

He said a real committed drive to boost local manufacturing must begin with the establishment of state-led/controlled contract manufacturing plants either solely or in Public Private Partnership (PPP) to enable all companies to collaborate and manufacture products locally.

He further said there should be special bank facilities providing low interest rates and the establishment of a dedicated financial institution to work with pharmaceutical companies toward achieving the nation’s aspiration to be a hub of pharmaceutical manufacturing in West Africa as is the case of India.

“There must be in place as a precedent to any deliberate effort to restrict product importation so that there will be no infrastructural barriers to all players like importers and manufacturers in their quest to meet the total medicine needs of the nation,” Dr Addo said.

Strategic approach

For his part, the Chairman of the National Executive Council of the GNCoP, Harrison Abutiate, commended the government and affirmed the council’s support for the vision to create a local pharmaceutical manufacturing hub for Ghana.

However, he called for systematic, realistic, transparent and strategic processes to avoid any potential public health crisis which would negatively impact on the country’s economy and a potential massive medicine shortage which can pose serious health risks for Ghanaians.

He added that the E.I if passed in haste will potentially put in jeopardy the country’s healthcare system.

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