Pharmacy Council cautions against purchasing from unlicensed dealers
A joint team of officials from the Ghana Pharmacy Council, Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the police yesterday arrested 12 individuals for illegally selling pharmaceutical drugs.
The suspects included those selling unapproved drugs and others operating without the appropriate licences.
The arrests were effected in a special operation in the Central Business District of Accra.
The suspected peddlers were apprehended at various hotspots in the neighbourhood of the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, mainly at the VIP and Neoplan bus terminals.
The special operation formed part of the Pharmacy Council’s larger strategy of sanitising and freeing public and market spaces of such illicit and dangerous substances and to ensure compliance with Ghana’s pharmaceutical laws and regulations.
The suspects were taken to the council’s head office in Accra, where they were processed and an inventory taken of all the substances they were peddling at the time of arrest to engender transparency before being handed over to the police for further investigations.
Most of the drugs confiscated by the authorities were touted to boost one’s sexual desire while enhancing and prolonging sexual performance.
Some were also advertised to be capable of enlarging the male sexual organ and for women, the buttocks.
As part of a new strategy adopted by the Pharmacy Council that led the operation, an undercover surveillance team engaged the suspects under the pretext of purchasing some of their products.
After the sale had taken place, the officials introduced themselves after which the plain-clothed police officers moved in to apprehend the culprits.
The Head of Enforcement and Intelligence Gathering at the Pharmacy Council, William Ruttmern, who spearheaded the exercise, said that was paramount in order to properly arrest and prosecute the suspects.
He said it had become necessary because in the past exercises, where officials just engaged in a general swoop, some vendors fled while those caught denied being owners of the products and had to be released due to the lack of evidence that they actually owned the products.
Mr Ruttmern said the exercise had become necessary as a result of the sudden surge in the sales of unapproved drugs by mostly unlicensed dealers.
“This practice has been going on for a long time.
However, it has not been on this scale.
They usually hide within corners and do it.
But these days when you look around, they are all over the place, blatantly practising it,” he explained.
Mr Ruttmern said even though his office was aware that there were more people involved in the illicit trade than those apprehended, they were going to do their best to clamp down on the practice in spite of the cost.
“We will continue with the raids periodically.
We advise the transport operators to desist from patronising such people and to also sack them while we continue to talk about it with you in the media for the consumption of the general public,” he added.
The Head of Enforcement also clarified that the officials were going after retailers because they were the immediate distributors of the substances to the general public and as such were conduits of the illegalities, making them “equally guilty as the suppliers and wholesalers.”
He, however, disclosed that his outfit, together with the FDA and the Ghana Police Service, was hatching a plan that would initiate a crackdown on the menace at its source.
“To the wholesalers, I want to tell them that we are coming.
We are coming for them and anyone we find engaging in this trade, we won’t spare; we will prosecute,” he stressed.
Mr Ruttmern strongly cautioned the public against purchasing such drugs because most of them were not approved by the relevant bodies and could be harmful to their health.
“In order to legally sell medicine in this country, you need a licence from the Pharmacy Council and to get that there is a certain requirement and qualification you must meet,” he added.