THE Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) has written to Honeybee Pharmacy, directing them to immediately recall defective condoms and gloves which have been in circulation since September 2020.

This follows a humiliating appearance before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee last week, Wednesday, where Medical Store Limited managing director Chikuta Mbewe admitted that Honeybee-supplied substandard condoms and gloves were distributed in September 2020, without conducting any quality assurance tests.

Mbewe also admitted that the said condoms and gloves were not safe for human consumption given that they failed quality tests at Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS), further telling the committee that these items were still in circulation.

When asked why the condoms and gloves were not recalled despite failing tests at ZABS, ZAMRA director laboratory services Bonaventure Chilindi, who was representing his Director General Bernice Mwale, said his institution was still waiting to receive ‘confirmation’ test results from a laboratory in Zimbabwe.

The revelations from the PAC sitting incited public outrage, as citizens wondered whether government has any regard for citizens’ health.

And in a letter seen by News Diggers! and dated January 7, 2021, ZAMRA Mwale directed Honeybee to recall the products within 14 days, saying they failed quality assurance tests at ZABS.

“RE: RECALL OF LATEX EXAMINATION GLOVES MEDIUM AND LARGE, BATCH NUMBER GL- 20001 NP002/20 MANUFACTURED BY ADESHWAR MEDITEX PRIVATE LIMITED INDIA AND MALE LATE CONDOMS BATCHES NO NP006/20, MANUFACTURED BY UNIVERSAL PROPHYLACTIC LIMITED, INDIA. Reference is made to the above subject matter. The above mentioned products were supplied to the Ministry of Health and delivered to Medical Stores Limited under the supply of rural health centre kits. The products were analyzed in the Zambia Bureau of Standards laboratory. Male latex condoms were found to be non-compliant with respect to acceptance criteria for Hang and Roll bursting volume length and package integrity,” read the letter, which was addressed to the Honeybee managing director.

“Therefore, you are directed to initiate an urgent recall of the affected batches from circulation within 14 days from the day of receipt of this letter. Use of press media with wide coverage is highly recommended. You are therefore required to submit to the authority a detailed report of the recall process which should include the quantities of the affected products imported and the quantities collected from the various health facilities and Medical Stores Limited. You are instructed to notify the manufacturers of the products to conduct investigations and provide feedback on the product defects and any corrective and preventive actions (CAPAS) put in place to avoid recurrence of such defects in future.”

During the PAC hearing, there was panic and finger pointing as government officials from the Ministry of Health and directors of Honeybee Pharmacy sweated to explain how a US$17 million contract was awarded to an unregistered company which delivered toxic drugs and substandard condoms.

In September, ZAMRA ordered HoneyBee Pharmacy to recall all batches of Paracetamol tablets which it supplied to the Ministry of Health within 14 days, saying it did not meet some specifications.