NDA closes 15 unlicensed pharmacies, assorted drugs worth Shs. 114m impounded in greater Masaka

MASAKA – National Drug Authority (NDA) has closed unlicensed pharmacies, assorted drugs and arrested 15 suspects during an operation conducted in 11 districts of greater Masaka region.

In a press release, the operation targeted 20 unlicensed pharmacies (19 human and 1 veterinary) that were earlier warned and issued with closure notice following the resignation of their respective supervising pharmacists.

“Of the targeted unlicensed pharmacies, five (4 human and 1 veterinary) have acquired pharmacists and applied for licenses to operate, while 15 pharmacies including 05 without supervising pharmacists have been closed by NDA and 287 boxes of assorted drugs estimated at Shs.114,800,000 were impounded,” reads part of the press release.

Dr Muhammad Lukwago, NDA Manager in charge of Central Region says, they want to stop unqualified persons from dispensing drugs something that raises concerns about safety to the users.

Lukwago has challenged the public to strictly buy drugs from qualified and licensed dealers, as a way of eliminating risks of consuming unsafe drugs.

Doctor Faith Nakiyimba, the Masaka District Health Officer indicates that some of the unlicensed drug dealers were found to promote irrational uptake of medicines; practices she says present negative long-term effects to the public, that include among others high drug resistance rates.

David Ekau, the Drugs Inspector in charge of the Central Region confirmed that Ngonge, Naka and another unidentified pharmacy on Herbert Street have been closed.

Ekau says, the three pharmacies have been the leading dispensers of malarial drugs to Rakai, Kalangala, Sembabule, and Lyantonde districts.

“I would like to confirm to you that 20 pharmacies and clinics have been black listed because of selling fake drugs and using unqualified personnel in Masaka district,” he said.

Ekau adds that it’s businessmen in Masaka region who have taken up the business of dispensing drugs to the people’s health.

Also, Charles Byebeso, another district Drug Inspector in Masaka says, the drug shop owners take advantage of the congestion at Masaka referral hospital to sell expired drugs to the patients calling upon other related bodies to intervene.

Byebeso said, Masaka has more than 110 drug shops in the district.

Jane Nakato, the proprietor of Naka Pharmacy who was briefly detained and later released says, she has an operational license from the NDA but was shocked to see her pharmacy being closed.

Nakato insists that NDA has failed to do its work and threatened to petition the Ministry of Health over the closure of her pharmacy.

“We have provided all the necessary requirements to run this business but NDA has failed to appreciate the health services we are providing to hard-to-reach areas where government has not reached,” she reacted.

Speaking to Abiaz Rwamwiri, the Public Relations Manager, National Drug Authority (NDA), the legal operation was in line with the authority’s routine post market surveillance activities intended to protect the human and animal population from drugs and healthcare products that are substandard, counterfeit and unauthorized, and to curb unlicensed drug outlets and unqualified persons handling drugs.

Rwamwiri confirmed that the operation was conducted in districts of Kalangala, Kalungu, Kyotera, Lwengo, Rakai, Sembabule, Bukomansimbi, Masaka, Butambala, Gomba, and Mpigi where 15 suspects were arrested and detained at their respective area police stations.

“15 suspects were arrested and detained in Masaka, Kalangala, Lukaya, Lwengo, Gombe, and Kakuto for operating illegal pharmacies. The suspects will be charged with carrying out pharmacy business without a license {14 (3)} and unlawful possession of classified drugs {27(2)} of NDP/A Cap 206,” says Rwamwiri.

He appealed to the public to remain vigilant and report any drug outlet that does not comply with operating standards.

He called upon all operators whose drugs have been impounded to report to NDA’s Central region offices Nakawa to address their compliances issues.

“You need to report any drug outlet that does not comply with operating standards on our toll-free line 080010199 or WhatsApp line 0740 002 070,” Rwamwiri emphasized.

“NDA extends its appreciation to the public, local authorities, Uganda police force and the media, for their tremendous support during the completed enforcement operation,” adds Rwamwiri.


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