Prof John B. Kaneene

Prof John B. Kaneene, a member of both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Board and Michigan State University epidemiology has said Uganda must set up a national drug monitoring agency to fight fake drugs.

The agency, he said, will scrutinize drugs that are imported into the country.

Uganda already has a drug agency, National Drug Authority whose mandate is to check the quality of drugs but some people say it is more focused on locally produced drugs and has no capacity to check quality of

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“To effectively fight importation of fake drugs and vaccines the country must establish a national monitoring agency that would look at drugs that come in,” Kaneene said.

Since time immemorial, Uganda’s vaccines/drugs industry has mostly been dependent on imported drugs mainly from India, Pakistan, USA and China.

Due to increased importation of millions of tonnes of vaccines and drugs annually, quality assurance of such drugs remains hanged in balance despite costing the country huge sums of money incurred in importation of such drugs.

This was worsened further by the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic that among others came along with restricted movements across borders prompting local leadership to think of developing locally adopted innovations including manufacturing drugs and medicines.

This led to rise of local drug manufacturing firms like Dei Group Pharmaceuticals/ Vaccines plant at Matugga.

Kaneene was at the plant to do a SWOT analysis of the plant and give a way forward. He said Uganda and Africa in general have a bright future in drug manufacturing.

“There are two ways we could do it. Number one is to produce our own drugs and this effort here is a big battle,” he said.

He amplified the possible dangers that result from continuous importation of fake drugs and vaccines.

“[It can lead to] drug resistance and I will give you an example, malaria which is one of the deadliest diseases here, people are drug resistant for malaria. We have research that we have done and I am not at liberty to disclose that but we have found out that 37% of malaria tablets on the market were fake,” Kaneene disclosed.

He called on the government to speed up efforts to sensitise masses on dangers of using fake drugs.

“There must be information going on in various media warning people about these drugs. All medical professions should do the same, let it be a joint campaign,” Prof. Kaneene emphasized.

Dei Group Pharmaceuticals leader Matthias Magoola pledged to meet local and international quality demands.