SEVENTY-TWO medical outlets including pharmacies, chemists and drug stores have so far been shut down for operating illegally and not meeting required medical standards since July this this year, Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) has revealed.
ZAMRA public relations officer Ludovic Mwape said that with the escalating number of medical outlets in the country, it was vital that the organisation also stiffened its operations and increased inspection programmes. Mr. Mwape has disclosed that among the 72 closed outlets 43 owners were taken to court and convicted while eight are still in the courts.
“When we find that people are not obeying the law, we seize the products which are not supposed to be on the market,” he said.
He said as an organisation which was responsible for regulating medicineS for the public, it also had the duty to prosecute individuals who were illegally selling drugs.
“We have a department which ensures that registered outlets comply with the required standards. Our target is to shutdown 80 or 90 percent of the illegal outlets in Lusaka. We are currently planning on going out to other provinces,” he said.
Mr Mwila said the authority carried out both planned and random inspections, besides other activities such as market surveillance, where they pick products on the spot and subject them to laboratory analysis to find out whether the products were safe for people’s use.
He disclosed that the authority did not carry out planned inspections in isolation but involved other stakeholders such as the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) and the police.
He acknowledged public’s participation, adding that there were times the authority relied on public information on activities they may deem to be illegal and not in line with the mandate of the authority.
Mr. Mwape advised people wishing to trade in medicines to legalise their businesses if they were qualified, adding that ZAMRA offered guidance on how to open a pharmaceutical or any other medical outlet.