Regulate pharmaceutical industry


THOSE in the medical profession have and would always be quick to alert the public against using alternative or traditional herbal remedies which have never been scientifically tested for their efficacy and effects on the human body.
Understandably, the scientific mind would only encourage the use of that which has been methodically proven and tested to work on ailments with the least of side effects.
By and large, traditional or alternative medicines used in the country are basically homemade with the use of very basic apparatus.
The packaging is not as elegant as factory made products and the conditions under which they are concocted are not known and open to conjecture.
The producers and promoters are heavily dependent on word of mouth testimonies of those who have been healed by using of their products.
People have been told to be wary of these untested alternative remedies or are quite suspicious about them, however effective they might be.
However, they might not necessarily have the reservations about factory made and professionally packaged drugs.
Some brands have been around for a long time and have won the public’s confidence.
Like, to the simple Papua New Guinean mind, the anti-biotic Amoxicillin is the cure-all for a number of health conditions.
Whether it is bought with a prescription at a certified drug store or from the street seller, it is still Amoxicillin and must work, never mind the fine print on the content.
That is the danger and risk alluded to illegal pharmaceutical activities.
These activities are carried out by both illegal and legally registered companies in the country.
These criminal activities include wrong labelling of drugs and counterfeit and substandard medicines.
Pharmaceutical crime poses a grave danger to public health.
Falsifying medicines undermine people’s faith in the health care system, while threatening the lives of the most vulnerable members of society.
The easy access to drugs openly sold on shops shelves or streets is easier and more convenient that spending hours in long queues at public health facilities.
The situation creates just the right environment for the proliferation of illegal, counterfeit pharmaceutical products and falsifying of brands.
Where traditional cures have been found to be effective, these should be vigorously promoted throughout the country so people do not resort to products that are illegally produced and falsely packaged and subject them to grave health risks than where they do use local proven and tested local remedies.
The existence of sub-standard drugs and warnings against the use of untested alternative traditional medicine really leaves the suffering public in a dilemma.
Where does the average suffering Papua New Guinean go with his or health complaint?
The long lines alone are intimidating enough and besides one may be given only a prescription to take shop at a private pharmacy.
Does one go by the testimonies of others on herbal treatments?
Do they buy the cheap drugs on without prescriptions?
Are even those prescription drugs on shop shelves really what they are in chemical composition and weight?
These are real health choices faced by the man on the street today.
Questions of the integrity of the pharmaceutical industry – arguably the core of the public health system – leave very little hope for the public.
It is time for the Government to strictly regulate the pharmaceutical industry and allowing only reputable companies to supply the public health system and have those supplies regularly inspected.