As the implementation of the post Ebola recovery plan continues, the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone has undertaken a bold step towards eradicating the presence of drug peddling across the country by conducting nationwide peddler raids in collaboration with the Trans International Organized Crime Unit (TOCU).
The Pharmacy Board continues to fight drug peddling throughout the country in the interest of public health and safety. In the recent peddler raids conducted between January and February, 2016 by the Pharmacy Board across the country, a total number of twenty-one (21) suspected peddlers were arrested and handed over to the Sierra Leone Police for further investigation and subsequent prosecution. Of the twenty-one arrests made, eleven suspected peddlers were arrested in Freetown, five each from Kono and Kenema districts.
Furthermore, fourteen out of the twenty-one peddlers arrested has been convicted and fined while the seven are awaiting final judgment. Seven out of the eleven peddlers arrested in Freetown were fined two million Leones (Le 2, 000, 000) each or serve two years jail term. Three of the five arrested in Kenema have been convicted and fined five hundred thousand Leones each or serve two years jail term while two of them were fined two hundred thousand Leones each or serve six months jail term. Two of the five peddlers arrested in Kono were fined five hundred thousand Leones and three hundred thousand Leones respectively.
The suspected peddlers were in possession of Classes ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ drugs which only authorized licensed pharmaceutical importers and retailers are allowed to market in accordance with the provisions of the Pharmacy and Drugs Act 2001.
In a similar development, the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone conducted routine inspection exercises for patent enterprises across the country in which a number of defaulters were found wanting for violating part IV, sections 21(1) and 32 of the Pharmacy and Drugs Act, 2001. These patent shops were in possession of Classes ‘A’ & ‘B’ drugs which only authorized licensed pharmacies and Drug Stores are allowed to distribute in accordance with the provisions of the Pharmacy and Drugs Act, 2001. Some of them were also fund wanting for the sale of expired medicines.
Magistrate Abu Bakarr Binneh Kamara of Court No. 1 in the Western Area has convicted and fined four of the seventeen patent enterprises found wanting for the sale of Classes ‘A’ & ‘B’ drugs while the remaining thirteen are still awaiting prosecution. All four convicted defaulters were fined two million six hundred thousand Leones (Le 2, 600, 000) each or serve a three years jail term.
The Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone informed this press that thirty five retrievals of Classes ‘A’ & ‘B’ drugs were conducted in patent medicines enterprises in the regions of which eighteen (18) were from the Eastern Region, nine (9) from the Southern Region and eight (8) from the Northern Region. Defaulters involved in the sale of Classes ‘A’ & ‘B’ drugs are awaiting prosecution from their respective regional courts of law.
Earlier this year, Pharm. Wiltshire Johnson, the Registrar of the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone informed the press that the Board has employed a two-prong approach in the fight against drug peddling which poses a serious health risk to the nation. He stated that the Board is conducting a routine inspection for the retrieval of Classes ‘A’& ‘B’ drugs from patent medicines enterprises as they are not legally allowed to sell such drugs. He reaffirmed that the Board will continue to raid, arrest and prosecute drug peddlers and anyone violating the provisions of the Pharmacy and Drugs Act 2001 in a bid to promote public health and safety.
Health officials and government authorities have viewed these interventions as extremely vital especially at a time when the looming threat of Ebola poses significant concerns and the illegal treatment of patients by illegal clinics and quack doctors presents the opportunity for diseases such as Ebola to re-emerge unnoticed thereby propagating its spread in the country. The Board’s activities are also being geared to protect the public against counterfeit and substandard drugs being distributed in the country.