Medicine licences revoked in drug abuse fight

Mukudzei Chingwere 

Herald Reporter 

The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) has revoked six permits for wholesale dealers in medical supplies and the licences for four individuals as authorities get tough on errant suppliers who are alleged to be aiding drug and substance abuse.

They have been selling banned medicines, those considered dangerous, both locally produced and those imported, or have been selling prescription drugs over the counter or supplying them to dealers selling over the counter rather than only to registered pharmacies.

The move comes as Government and authorities step up the practical steps to curb drugs and substance abuse especially by those partaking in the peddling and commercialisation of drug abuse that is threatening to ravage the societal fabric through abuse by the youths.

The cancellation of drugs quickly got the commendation of the public that spoke to The Herald in Harare city centre.

Yesterday, MCAZ announced the cancellation of wholesalers permits, premises licences and persons licences as authorities tighten restrictions on the use of medicines that tend to be abused as drugs.

Addressing the media yesterday, MCAZ head of licensing and enforcement Mrs Caroline Samatanga confirmed the withdrawal of licenses.

She said MCAZ is committed to protecting public and animal health through its regulatory functions and as part of this mandate, MCAZ recognizes the urgent need to combat drug and substance abuse.

“Through our robust regulatory framework, we ensure that only safe, effective, and quality medicines are available on the market,” said Mrs Samatanga. “By doing so, we aim to prevent the circulation of counterfeit drugs and unregistered substances that can contribute to drug abuse.

“In this regard, the authority, has revoked six permits for wholesale dealers and cancelled four persons licences who were promoting abuse of Histalix, a locally produced cough mixture containing codeine, by illegally selling it at Mbare and places likes Chitungwiza and others were exporting to Zambia and Mozambique.

“The Authority has put in place a mechanism to control availability of codeine containing medicines by making them prescription preparations. This means that they cannot be dispensed without the provision of a valid prescription.

“However, the authority notes with concern that over-the-counter medicines from other countries are continuously being imported illegally.

“In addition to our regulatory role, MCAZ actively collaborates with other Government agencies and partners in implementing strategies aimed at preventing drug abuse.

“The authority works closely with law enforcement agencies to combat illicit drug trafficking and ensure strict adherence to regulations governing controlled substances,” said Mrs Samatanga.

MCAZ was working with the police, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), which monitors imports, and port health officials to educate them on the entry of these drugs.

Mrs Samatanga said they are holding talks with stakeholders on a regular basis and have had five training sessions this year in Masvingo, Beitbridge, Zvishavane, Victoria falls and Mutare.

“The fight against drug and substance abuse requires a united front from all sectors of society,” she said.

“MCAZ encourages individuals who may be struggling with substance use disorders or know someone who is affected by it to seek help from healthcare professionals or support groups available within their communities.

“The authority also exhorts medical professionals to adhere to pharmaceutical regulations or risk losing their licences.

“Together with our partners and stakeholders across Zimbabwe, MCAZ remains steadfast in its commitment to protecting public health by combating drug and substance abuse.

“The MCAZ urges everyone to join in this critical endeavour as the country strives for a healthier future for all,” said Mrs Samatanga.

Mrs Beauty Moyo said: “It is a two pronged approach. Those taking those drugs should obviously be punished to stop and also we should stop the supply chain so that drugs are not available on the market.”

Ms Dorothy Mugwati said: “the sad part is that these drugs are now finding their way into schools, it started with school dropouts but now you find them in schools which is scary especially for us parents.

“I am happy that the Government is now controlling the supply chain so that drugs do not even find their way to people,” said Mrs Mugwati.

Mr Takudzwa Bhiri said: “Drugs were a preserve of hard-core criminals but now kids are buying them at market places so I think it is a good move to tighten the supply of the illegal drugs.”

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