Pharmaceutical Society of Zambia (PSZ) president Jerome Kanyika has called on the Ministry of Health to come up with a directorate for pharmaceutical services to ensure professionalism in the procurement of quality drugs.

Kanyika’s call follows a memorandum by Medical Stores Limited to recall Adrenaline injection from all facilities.

“Dear All, please note that Adrenaline injection 1mg/ml has been recalled and should not be used for IV. MSL is therefore requesting that the products be quarantined and be returned to MSL. Your urgently response with the facilities will be appreciated. Product Name: Adrenaline Injection BP 1mg/ml; Instructions: for IM/SC Use only; Supplier: International Drug Company Ltd; Contract Number: MOH/SP/001/019-01; Batch Number: EAZNI-001 and EAZNI-002; Quantity Delivered: 299,800 x each ampoule; Value : $ 53,964.00; Manufacturer: Laborate Pharmaceuticals Ltd. India; Packaging : Yellow /brown/white packaging box of 100s,” the MSL memo read.

But Kanyika, in an interview, blamed the situation on what he termed lack of leadership at the Ministry of Health in the pharmaceutical sector as people who are involved in the procurement of drugs know nothing about the process.

“First, we should understand that Adrenaline is a drug that we use in emergencies and it is always found at the emergency section if you want to resuscitate someone. Now for us to have adrenaline which when you inject the person, it is not working, it brings a lot of worries. And this is what we have been talking about as pharmaceutical Society of Zambia to say can we have the directorate for pharmaceutical services in the Ministry of Health so that professionalism in the pharmaceutical sector is effected to all the pharmaceutical products. What is lacking right now at the Ministry of Health is leadership in the pharmaceutical sector and the people who are involved in the procurement of these things know nothing about the drugs. So they will procure to anyone who will come with a briefcase saying ‘we have this drug and we can supply’, they buy and then they take it to medical stores. And when Medical Stores take the drug to medical facilities, you find that the drug is not working,” Kanyika said.

He said all the drugs supplied under the Ministry of Health must be checked to ascertain the quality of drugs being given to people.

“You see the cost that is involved? And when you check the amounts of money involved there, it’s about US $53, 000 and multiply that by K12, it’s a lot of money involved. We are losing such kind of money because we don’t want to entrust the professionals to run the procurement of drugs. [First], it was Gentamicin and now it is Adrenaline. And we don’t know how many more drugs are there,” said Kanyika.

“And for this, we can call for all the drugs that are supplied in the Ministry of Health to be checked so that we know that our people are consuming the correct drugs. Are they up to standard? The other time, we had other drugs for epilepsy which had the same problem. If people say there is corruption in the MoH, no wonder people don’t want to give the professionals the procurement of drugs, are we going to say no to that? No. Let the Ministry of Health institute a directorate for pharmaceutical services to protect the people of Zambia. We cannot be doing trial and error on the health of the people of Zambia.”