Pharmacists lament over high tariffs on product license
Accra, April 22, GNA - Pharmacist Noah Acolatse, Chairman of the Community Practice Pharmacists' Association (CPPA), on Thursday appealed to government to do something about the sudden upward revision of Drug registration and renewal by the Food and Drugs Board (FDB).
He said the 100 percent increase, would not only have serious adverse implications on the pharmaceutical industry, but also impact negatively on efforts to ensure drug availability, accessibility and affordability by the vulnerable in society who would naturally carry the heaviest burden of diseases.
Addressing the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the CPPA in Accra, Pharmacist Acolatse said the increase, could also pose challenges to Ghana's effort to provide quality health care and be an impediment on measures aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG).
Held under the theme; "The Business of Health - A Pharmaceutical Perspective," the two-day meeting is expected to provide opportunities for better engagement with the public sector and consider newer and better ways of improving their interactions towards improved health and productivity at the community level.
It would also afford members the opportunity to analyze their financial risks, newer roles, analyze constraints to their participation towards better health at the community level, including access to capital, insurance cover, human resource as well as regulatory framework oversight.
Mr Acolatse stated that the recent hike in the registration fees could not be substantiated as such costs would be transferred to patients with detrimental effects.
He explained that by the FDB's own definition, if on the average, companies carried between 20 to 150 products or product forms, they would have to pay between 20,000 to 150, 000 dollars annually just to maintain their product license in Ghana.
Mr. Acolatse said by this calculation, the FDB was hoping the situation would translate into an additional five to 10 percent increase in medicine cost in Ghana making it much affordable to patients.
He said the situation was unfavorable to players in the pharmaceutical industry, as most of them were small and medium scale operators adding that already duties and taxes on drugs as well as raw materials accounted for about 36 percent of drug cost in Ghana with about 85 percent of all allopathic medicines being imported.
Pharmacist Acolatse enumerated challenges as a result of the new fees as the downsizing of imported medicines list by companies, discouragement to research and development-based companies from registering their products in Ghana, most local pharmaceutical industries folding up and the proliferation of counterfeit drugs as well as smuggling.Pharmacist Acolatse cautioned that for a country which was already faced with the huge burden of unemployment, government should not allow the few local pharmaceutical companies to drop out of business and reminded the FDB of the dangers of importing counterfeit drugs, if the fees remained prohibitive.
He said it was the vision of the current executives of the CPPA to make community pharmacy the pivot for healthcare and advocacy at the community level, and to redefine its position as specialists health service providers in the communities.
Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor, Minister of Health, in a speech read for him by Mr. Samuel Boateng, a Director of the Ministry, said government would continue to pursue practical interventions to address challenges facing the Community Pharmacy Practice in Ghana.
The Minister said government was aware of the high cost of capital, human resource, inadequate and inequitable distribution of infrastructure and limited market access.
Dr. Kunbuor said that the situation was even worsened by the cluster of pharmacy outlets mainly in the urban areas and said "these will create the enabling environment to enable the community practice pharmacist realize their most professional potential".
He said Ghana needed an effective public private partnership with key stakeholders such as the Association to influence the performance in healthcare delivery and his Ministry was ready to engage all stakeholders both private and public in a multi-stakeholders forum to address the high price for medicine in Ghana.
Dr. Kunbuor explained that government would work to support the National Health Insurance Authority in its fight to reduce delay in reimbursement of funds and curbing fraudulent activities.
He acknowledged the critical role of the CPPA as the first point of call of access to essential medicine at the community level and commended the members for their contribution to the employment opportunities in the job market.
Dr. Kunbuor said as community pharmacy practitioners, members should see their training in pharmacy, customer orientation and accessibility to clients as vital to their core business of medicine supply and assist their clients in the quality use of medicine and also to maintain professionalism in their conduct.