The last time I revised my notes, patients could buy medicines from drugstores on the recommendation of a qualified and licensed physician. The whole system appeared regulated that patients are turned down by drugstore operators because they had no authorized note from a doctor.
The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) had its authority stamped on all drugs sold in the country that only the recommended and clinically certified ones are allowed to be sold around the neighborhoods. What changed?
Changing Landscape with Expensive Drug Advertisement:
The environment is changed from the periods 1990 to 2015. In the past, the average patient could not list at least 5 drugs on top of his head because they are recommended by doctors. However, the situation is different today. One can name more than 15 drugs on top of his head. Direct consumer advertising has proven the magic to this new trend in the Health industry of Ghana.
Pharmaceutical companies both local and international have found a space in the privacy of these patients and prospective patients to market their drugs directly to them with less effort. Often these commercials do not show persons in the alleged disease situation that the drug aims at curing. They show vibrant, energetic people who are excited for using the drug. What fascinates me is that they often end their commercials with the note that “if symptoms persist for more than three days, consult a physician.” Why don’t they say “consult a physician before taking it?”
What makes these commercials potent is the kind of emotional connection that they create bounding with the patient. And because of the Ghanaian culture for quick fixes, we turn to buy some of these drugs even when they have not been recommended by doctors. So now, anybody at all could walk to a drugstore to purchase any medicine of his choice without the greeting of interrogation from the seller. The list of pharmaceutical manufacturing companies in Ghana is growing rapidly due to the tons of million dollars they get every year. Starwin products, pharmanova limited, Midland pharmaceuticals limited, Lagray Chemical Company, M & G Pharmaceuticals Limited, Amponsah Efah Pharmaceuticals, Ayrton Drugs Manufacturing Limited, Danadams Pharmaceuticals limited, Ernest Chemist limited, Eskay Therapeutics limited, Letap Pharmaceuticals, Kama Industries limited, Intravenous Infusions limited, Kanbros Chemical Industries, Sharp Pharmaceuticals, and Kinapharma limited are few of the registered companies with the all-powerful Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana (PMAG).
Drugging the Ghana Medical Association (GMA):
The situation is deepened by the drugging of doctors by pharmaceutical companies to help market their drugs to patients. This trend, though inconspicuous, has proven efficient in the new multi-million drug sale trade in the country. The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has its rank and file infiltrated by pharmaceutical companies in Ghana, India, America and Europe to co-opt their members to prescribe their medicines as most effective for the cure of certain diseases even when they are not efficient or clinically safe for consumption. A visit to doctors’ quarters, consorting rooms and patient wards are filled with paraphernalia of pharmaceutical companies. These doctors are walking advertisers of medical companies who display pens, stethoscopes, and calendars branded by these companies. The job that earns them GHC5, 000 plus a month would be to prescribe the paymasters drugs as effective for certain diseases over the others. Very simple.
Buying Influence – the Food and Drugs Authority:
Today, the situation is worsened day by day by the malfunctioning of the oversight function of the Food and Drugs Authority – a body mandated to check the excesses of products of drug and food manufacturing companies locally. How is one drug better than the other? How do we prevent drug manufacturing companies from packaging yesterday’s drug that refused to sell to patients in a different brand? At least what I know is that there’s no great difference between the different types of drugs that cure the same disease.
The drug for cold and flu manufactured by Ayrton drug is not different from that of Kinapharma limited, and not any different from the one by Ernest Chemist. And this point is given much volume by the refusal, or the inability of drug manufacturing companies to show how different their drug is from the others in the market. Government officials have found themselves servants of these multinational drug manufacturing companies desilting the regulatory books for these killers of innocent Ghanaians. The only time one sees the FDA at work, is when it gets bad mouthed in the public or when a private individual has undertaken an investigation in some of the cobwebs of these products. Commercials are aired without authorization from the FDA compounding the situation.
How Many Death of Innocent Lives is much?
The combined effort of the trio has led to the mass slaughter of several Ghanaians who could have been saved had we been human to our conscience. We are often deluded into believing that drug manufacturing companies are here to save lives when what they actually do is snuffing lives in thousands. They bombard us with huge amount of money they had to spend in researching disease types and their possible cure and we connect to their generosity—thinking they are our saviors. There’s no free lunch. No business, that has investors and shareholders to satisfy, would throw its cash away in some kind of philanthropic activities. They tell our leaders that they suffer to produce the so called ‘miracle’ to the many dire situations we live in to save our lives—which is a million dollar lie.
We can de-drug Ghanaians if what we want to do is to do the right things as global citizens. As a free market society, as Ghana appears or seems to be (me), it’s possible to create a product, market and sell it, within the remit of the laws of the country. Anything short of this is an anathema to peace and security of the country. Drug manufacturing companies local and international should be made to operate within the claws of the law. Any misdemeanor need to be stamped out through sanctions from the Food and Drugs Authority to discourage others following. Drug advertisements in the media should have the embossed authority of the FDA before being carried to consumers.
This also means that the media should help in this endeavor since they have for years aided these companies to dupe and rape Ghanaians in the health sector. We need as a country to re-tighten our regulatory frameworks so long as drug sale and advertisements are concerned. Government officials need to show the boundary between loyalty and patriotism. The health needs of our people should be prioritized to preserve the quality human resource materials of this country. We can no longer pretend to be asleep when our people are slaughtered daily by these companies. Let’s rise to the occasion.
Please do share your comment with me. I am interested in knowing what you think about the issue under discussion even as you learn from me. Thank you.
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