22.04.2005 General News

FDB warns against two brands of artesunate

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Accra, April 22, GNA - The Food and Drugs Board (FDB) on Friday directed all clinics and companies holding stocks of 50 milligrams artesunate tablets with logos of "Sunflower" and "Lever" manufactured by Adams Pharmaceutical Group Company Limited of China to return them to the suppliers.

The FDB said the two brands of artesunate on the market had not been registered in the country and warned that it could not guarantee their safety.

"The Board cannot guarantee the safety, efficacy and quality of these brands and wishes to advise health care providers and the general public not to patronize them," the FDB said in a statement in Accra. It said the only artesunate drug registered in the country so far was in green and white packets, a brand manufactured by Guilin Pharmaceutical Company Limited of China with the inscription "Original Sinopharm & Devag".

The Board said it was doing everything possible to withdraw the product from the market and bring the supplier to book. The Ghana Health Service (GHS) on Tuesday April 5 announced that a combination of Artesunate and Amodiaquine would soon replace chloroquine as a drug of choice in the treatment of malaria cases in the country. This is expected to meet the World Health Organization (WHO) standards, which recommend the use artemisinin combination of drugs in treating malaria cases.

The first consignment of the drugs to be imported through the Global Fund is expected to arrive in the country this month, Dr Mrs Constance Bart-Plange, National Malaria Control Programme Manager, said. Dr Bart-Plange, who made this known at a GHS monthly health promotion talk held in Accra, said chloroquine, which was used in treating malaria would be phased out within a year. She said chloroquine resistance had exceeded 25 per cent hence the need to look for other potent drugs.

Speaking on Ghana's moves to adopt a new anti-malaria drug policy, Dr Barte-Plange said in severe malaria cases, parental quinines would be administered while Sulfadoxine-Pyrrimethamine would be offered to pregnant women affected by malaria.

Dr Barte-Plange said the use of artemisinin-based combination had distinct advantages stressing that it had no documented parasite resistance and had proved to be very effective in treating malaria cases.

Giving an overview of malaria cases in the country, she said the disease recorded 3.2 million cases, with over 38,000 deaths occurring each year.

"Out of the 38,000 cases, 16,000 children under five years die, while 7,000 pregnant women also die each year." Giving events that led to the change of policy in malaria treatment Dr Bart-Plange said there were a continuing and unacceptable high malaria cases and deaths.

According to her, some of the factors also included the poor prescription of drugs and inability of patients to use the drugs prescribed properly.

"Others also were the general dissatisfaction with chloroqiune, poor quality drugs and available evidences of better and effective new anti- malaria drugs."

Dr Barte-Plange, therefore, appealed to the public to complete doses of all drugs prescribed for them even when they felt well in order not to create resistance to the new drug.

She stated that the new drug policy would be heavily subsidised to meet the pockets of ordinary people adding that under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the treatment cost would be fully integrated into the scheme for all insured policy holders.

Dr Bart- Plange said efforts were being made to increase availability and use of the drugs and asked people who visited pharmacy shops for the new drug to know their weight before using the drug.

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