People take medicine to live, not to die. But now it seems in Uganda, many people are at the risk of dying because of taking some medicines which are fake and abundantly available in the market.
The fake products can be classified into two categories: Counterfeit products and Pass-off products.
Counterfeiting is a kind of duplication where even the original manufacturer can at times not be able to distinguish between a genuine and a fake product. These fake products bear the identical name of the original product. The packaging, graphics, colour pattern, design and even same name and address is almost the same as that the genuine manufacturer. A pass-off product, on the other hand, is one that comes with a few minor changes from the original product.
Fake Medicines are also known as ‘counterfeit’, ‘duplicate’, ‘sub-standard’ or spurious. Counterfeiting literally means copying or imitating and this has been practiced for as many years as the world has existed. Counterfeiting of money is its oldest form and has been around almost since coins were invented.
However, in modern times, counterfeiting is most often associated with the imitation of major brand consumer goods, and the more the demand for a product, the more counterfeits that are manufactured.
Needless to say, scores of people all over the world take poor quality medicine, containing less than desired doses of medicine and even completely fake medicine containing no medicine at all, and millions of those who consume these concoctions die or suffer from medical complications.
This, therefore, calls for enhanced tests to be carried out by the National Drugs Authority (NDA), in respect to all the drugs that are being used by the different pharmacies and hospitals in the country.
Indeed, much as the Authority has tried its best, the government should facilitate them financially to enable NDA effectively carry out its mandate.
That noted, experts in the medical field believe that the problem is on the rise and that more criminals are turning to pharmaceuticals for a simple reason: low risk and high reward.
They also note that penalties for those dealing in counterfeit drugs are relatively weak compared to those trading in narcotics and human trafficking.
I therefore urge the National Drug Authority and the Ministry of Health to come to Ugandans’ rescue by testing all the drugs that are being sold by the pharmacies.