Crackdown on illegal chemical sellers: Pharmacy Council closes down unlicensed chemical shops in Tamale

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The Pharmacy Council in the Northern region on Thursday April 12, 2018 embarked on an exercise to rid the metropolis and other parts of the region of illegal over-the-counter medicine sellers.

This follows an earlier exercise in February this year in which several unlicensed chemical shops were locked up.

The recent closures became necessary following the expiration of a March 30, 2018 deadline given the illegal operators to regularize their activities.

In the process, several chemical shops operating without license or with expired license were closed down at Warizahi, Lamashegu, Kakpagyili and other areas.

The Northern Regional Manager of the council, Michael Anim Armeyaw said the exercise was in connection with current challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry.

According to him, subsequent campaigns will target both licensed and unlicensed shops that engage in the sale of unapproved drugs, including tramadol.

“Today’s exercise was necessitated by the recent challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry, especially in the Northern region; particularly with the abuse of tramadol. What the council has noticed is that there are a lot of illegal facilities in and around the metropolis and across the region. So we are making efforts to clamp down on these illegal facilities because they also contribute to the supply of these abused pharmaceutical products, after which we will concentrate on those who have actually been licensed to sell,” he explained.

Challenges

The exercise was not without challenges as some of the owners of the illegal facilities resisted the closure of their shops through pleas and the use of politicians to intercede. Officials of the council who embarked on the exercise stood their grounds and succeeded in locking up the shops which were earmarked for closure.

An I.T officer at the council, Justice Appiah-Kubi who led the team to close down the chemical shops explained that they were no strangers to the resistance they faced last week.

He said there are instances the team encounters near-death experience on the field.

“Someone will be operating illegally and you want to close down the shop and they will be resisting. At a point the whole community comes out to fight you to the extent they threaten us with weapons. It’s very very hectic. At a point you travel over 200km to lock a shop and then just as you leave, the padlocks are broken [and] they are doing the same things.

At times it gets crazy. There was this day we visited a shop, an illegal shop. We closed the shop down and within 20 minutes the whole village surrounded us, threatening to burn our car down [and] beat us to death. Some were holding guns,” he lamented.

Mr Armeyaw appealed to politicians, chiefs and opinion leaders to support the council rid the metropolis and the Northern region of illegal over-the-counter medicine sellers.

“What I believe is it is up to them to help us correct them. When somebody does the wrong thing you don’t lead the person to go and plead, you help the regulator to let the culprit understand that what he or she has done is wrong. If you come pleading with me to allow such a person to go free I don’t think we can have a solution to all these problems. If you commit an offence and you can go scot free because you can pay money or a chief can go and plead on your behalf or your DCE can go and beg on your behalf, all these problems will never end,” he stated

He warned individuals who are still in the illegal business or planning to start to desist from the practice as the council will soon close in on them.

By: Yahaya Masahudu, radiotamale.com/mashud@radiotamale.com

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