Scrutinise pharmaceutical imports from Far East — Customs Division
All pharmaceutical products and food imports from Far East countries should be thoroughly scrutinised before they are cleared from the country’s ports, the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has directed.
Sector Commanders at the borders are also to collaborate with the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) and relevant security agencies to ensure medicines and food products were not allowed through both legal and illegal entry points across the country.
The Commissioner of Customs, Mr Isaac Crentsil, told the Daily Graphic in an interview yesterday that the directives had become necessary following the confiscation of 2,751 quantities of drugs/capsules by the South Korea Custom Service from some persons believed to be Chinese in South Korea.
A November 12, 2018 memo, signed by the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Preventives, Mr Seidu Iddrisu, said the drugs confiscated in South Korea contained tissues of human foetus from infants and were being smuggled in suitcases to disguise them as personal effects.
The medicines, according to the memo, also allegedly contained suspected hepatitis B virus.
Mr Crentsil explained that although no such drugs had come into the country, it was important to take the necessary precautionary measures, "considering that we have just entered the peak import season and people who engage in such fraudulent activities could use the opportunity to attempt to cheat the system by bringing in such products",
“By our internal mechanism, Customs is forging stronger collaborations with the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to institute strict control and efficacy testing measures to ensure that only safe and approved medicines are allowed into the country”, he claimed.
"For now pharmaceutical products from China and the Far East countries would be made to undergo vigorous checks and testing as a way to ensure that public health and safety is adequately protected", he stressed.
Mr Crentsil called on the public, particularly those engaged in import trade, to assist Customs and allied agencies to avert the entry of the alleged pharmaceuticals as well as others that could compromise public health and safety.
The head of Import Control at the FDA in charge of the Tema Port, Mr Solomon Agampim, also told the Daily Graphic that the FDA, which received the notice in October 2018, had been on the lookout to ensure the said drugs were not allowed into the country.
According to him, the registration process for drugs required the FDA to undergo site inspection of the potential importers.
“For now, although the pharmaceuticals peak season is over, we here at the port will continue to exercise due diligence and further ensure full product analyses are conducted as part of safety measures”, Mr Agampim stated.