The Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica (PSJ) has expressed concern about counterfeit medicines being sold locally. The organization is asking registered pharmacists across the country to be extremely vigilant about the counterfeit drugs. Also, it is advising member pharmacists to be aware of the legitimate registered distributors and manufacturers of medical products approved to conduct business in Jamaica.
Counterfeit medicines can be toxic, and pharmacists are vital in ensuring the safety of medications used by patients, the PSJ said.
First vice president of the PSJ, Dr. Ernestine Watson told Jamaica Today that the Society is very concerned about the sale of counterfeit medicines mainly on the streets. She said it was assumed that the drugs were brought into the country by “suitcase sales people”. She said the police would have to determine how such people came by the drugs and how they got onto the street.
Dr. Watson said she was aware of efforts of such people to sell those medicines into legitimate pharmacies. She urged the vigilance of pharmacies to prevent that and also to detect any counterfeit medications reaching patients.
She said members had evidence of drugs bought on the streets, some of which were toxic. Dr. Watson who runs a pharmacy said the main categories of counterfeit medicines sold on the streets were antibiotics, sexual stimulants, pain killers and sedatives, often for people hooked on drugs for anxiety.
She said the statement issued by the PSJ was intended to encourage the vigilance of pharmacists. “We want to remind them of the need for vigilance,” and that some of these medications may be toxic.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica reminded pharmacists of their professional obligations. They listed ten of such including that pharmacists: are responsible for the integrity of the supply chain, ranging from manufacturer to distributor and, ultimately, to the patient; should ensure medications are purchased from known reliable sources; can warn patients about the dangers of purchasing medications over the internet and monitor counterfeit medication alerts – stay informed.
Also, pharmacists should inspect all medication packages for faulty seals and labels and they should report any suspicious counterfeit medications through PharmWatch.
By Franklin McKnight