Medicines regulatory authority on the cards

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By Nicole Tau

A draft law proposing regulation of medicines, medical equipment, and pharmaceuticals was this week discussed by Social Cluster Portfolio Committee in the national assembly.

The bill referred to as the medicines bill of 2019 is before the Social Cluster portfolio committee passed into law.

When passed into law, the bill will regulate Lesotho’s growing medical profession issuance of medicines, medical equipment, and other pharmaceuticals.

On November 9, the portfolio committee heard representatives of the Pharmaceutical Society of Lesotho (PSL) submission on how they envision the new law set to govern their trade and ensure public safety.

The meeting was attended by the Committee’s Chairperson Fako Moshoeshoe, Members of Parliament Khutliso Mokhethi, and Makalo Raphoto, amongst others, as well as PSL Chairperson Atisang Mokhele, and his colleagues Maseabata Ramathebane and Teboho Khetsi.

Mokhele said that national and international authorities have noticed the presence of substandard and counterfeit medicines as a growing concern and a challenge to those involved in quality assurance.

Khetsi also lamented a growing number of unregulated bodies all over Lesotho, selling unregulated and substandard medicine to the general public.

According to Khetsi, some of these entities do not have a qualified pharmacist as a supervisor and sell not only medicines of poor quality but also medicines that should not be sold over the counter.

Mokhele said that medicines of poor quality can have a serious consequence on the wellbeing of members of the public and the country’s economy.

“Apart from the medical consequences of ineffective treatments or toxic effects, public funds will be wasted because of extra costs to the health care system.

“In addition, the population will lose confidence in the health system,” Mokhele said.

The Pharmaceutical society also noted the Medicine Regulatory Authority can be effective only if there is a legal basis for all of its functions.

It is for this reason that the Pharmaceutical society acceded the promulgation of the Medicine Bill is of utmost importance to the establishment of the autonomous and independent Authority.

The Pharmaceutical society demanded that the regulatory authority board should have two medical practitioners engaged in general medicine in Lesotho and chosen from a list of three names submitted by the Medical Associating of Lesotho.

It also suggested that for one to be a board member, the person should not have a criminal record or any affiliation with a medicine brand that may affect their decisions and impartiality of the authority

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