At least three pharmacies have been shut while four managers lost licences for selling expired and unregistered medicines to unsuspecting patients, as the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) gets tough on such offenders.
Expired medical products can be less effective or risky due to a change in chemical composition or a decrease in strength.
Certain expired medicines are at risk of bacterial growth and sub-potent antibiotics can fail to treat infections, leading to more serious illnesses and antibiotic resistance.
The expiration date is a critical part of deciding if the product is safe to use and will work as intended.
MCAZ Acting Director-General Mr Richard Rukwata said the cancellation of licences and closure of business in respect of the offenders will lapse around November this year.
He warned other operators against selling unregistered and expired drugs saying the authority recently adopted a new policy of naming and shaming offenders.
“Licensees need to know that the game has changed. Contraventions to the statutes now carry significant reputational risk. With the new policy of publishing offenders names, business leaders need to prioritise compliance for the good of their customers who are the citizens of this country.
“The new policy is to publish these issues for the public good. Progressive regulatory processes require MCAZ to be transparent about regulatory decisions taken which result in closure of businesses and cancellations of licenses,” said Mr Rukwata.
Skiborry Private Limited, which trades as Bright Pharmacy of Number 10 Highfield Road, Southerton was found guilty of purchasing medicines from unauthorised sources, selling unregistered and expired medicines.
According to MCAZ, the cancellation order remains in force until November this year. MCAZ also cancelled a licence for Mr Edmore Jeje of Bright Pharmacy.
Mukoka & Chikuya Private Limited, which trades as Goodhope Pharmacy at Number 23 Jason Moyo was also shut for selling unregistered and expired medicines and the licence holder Mr Batsirayi Mukoka also had his licence cancelled.
The cancellation of licences in respect of Mr Mukoka and Goodhope Pharmacy is valid until November this year.
Border Pharmacies Private Limited that trades as Border Pharmacy of Number 63 Living Waters, Beitbridge was punished for selling unregistered and expired medicines.
The same pharmacy was found guilty of inadequate capturing of patients’ information when dispensing “Prescription Preparation” (PP).
Its two licence holders Mr Costertain Delangton and Mr Gamuchirayi Matandirotya also had their practice licences cancelled until October this year. The expiration date can be found printed on the label or stamped onto the bottle or carton.
It is important to know and stick to the expiration date on medicine.
Using expired medical products is risky and possibly harmful to one’s health. Once the expiration date has passed, there is no guarantee that the medicine will be safe and effective.
If the medicine has expired, it must not be used. It must be properly disposed of.
Failing to safely dispose of old medications, especially opioids, all too often leads to dangerous drugs ending up in the wrong hands.
Expired medicines are also not just a risk to the person they were prescribed for, but can injure children and pets if taken by mistake.
Therefore, proper disposal of unneeded medicines is essential.
Apart from pharmacies, unregulated and unregistered medicines are being sold by vendors in Zimbabwe.
The drugs are flooding into Zimbabwe, with consignments of expired medicines being smuggled into the country through the country’s porous border posts.
Syndicates are allegedly taking advantage of steep US dollar prices being charged by pharmacies.
The high prices being charged have left patients at high risk, as they are resorting to cheaper and unregulated medicines coming from neighbouring Mozambique and Zambia. Herald.