Fake medicines…Children victims of human traffickers in Egypt
The death of a group of children recently exposed the spread of fake antibiotics. Experts and family pharmacists have warned against the use of ceftriaxone (an antibiotic of the third generation from the group of cephalosporins), due to the spread of fake packaging with this brand name.
Child Firas’ condition worsened after he used an antibiotic given to him by his father, a well-known doctor in the northern city of Belqas, the city that witnessed the death of child Hajar three months ago, with a similar injection of the drug. The pharmacists quickly maintained their innocence in what authorities quickly accused of incompetence following the children’s deaths. About two months ago, a pharmacist was jailed for injecting a child with an antibiotic that led to her death.
A few days ago, authorities in the northern city of Kafr Ziyat seized an unlicensed factory producing brand-name antibiotics for well-known companies. During the Drug Administration’s nationwide campaign, the total value of illegal drugs seized from pharmacies, warehouses and factories last month was around four million pounds (about $160 million). According to the press release, around 9,000 pharmacies, drugstores, distribution companies and drug factories were visited and legal measures were taken against violators.
And the Medicines Administration has distributed a warning leaflet that includes 17 counterfeit products offered on the Egyptian market since the beginning of this year, mostly pregnancy drugs, children’s immune boosters, kidney patients to reduce, skin, nose, ear and throat diseases, and poor memory. A few days ago, the Egyptian Center for the Right to Medicine revealed, in a statement, that it had received reports from pharmacists and doctors about the presence of counterfeit containers of Voltaren (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which acts as a pain reliever). soothing, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory effect).
The head of the Egyptian Center for the Right to Medicine, Mohamed Fouad, warned of the danger of a new variable that threatens the drug market and patients, namely expired drugs, which number in the millions and are bought by brokers after their expiration date. set on them, so they are resold after buying them at a cheap price after the date change.
Fouad describes the matter as more accessible to drug gangs and “more dangerous for patients”, suggesting in a Facebook post that this is the reason for the increase in deaths as a result of recent drug access. He says that out of eighty thousand pharmacies in Egypt, there are about ten thousand pharmacies run by people who do not have a pharmacy certificate, and some of their owners do not hesitate to sell medicines that have expired. According to Fouad, the matter has reached the point of “replacing these drugs with sexual stimulants”, which is welcomed by the owners of these pharmacies, who are repurchasing expired drugs, appealing to the authorities to tighten control. Karim Karam, Secretary of the Government Pharmacists Committee at the Egyptian Pharmacists Union, confirms the circulation of counterfeit Voltaren analgesic injection packages. He also specifies the difference between the two types of imitation and the original in television statements, explaining that the original has a color mark on the glass ampoule. As for the imitation, there are no color markings on it, and the shape of the original plastic container is different from the imitation, in addition, the side of the original has the inscription “store at a temperature of less than 30 degrees” written on it. As for the imitation, it doesn’t say anything.
In this context, the head of the drug production commission in the Union of Pharmacists, Mahfouz Ramzi, confirms the validity of what has been circulating about the drug Megamox for children, which is used to treat ear and throat infections and inflammation of the lower respiratory tract. tract and urinary tract in adults, pointing out that it is counterfeit as announced by the company that manufactures the drug.
Pharmacist Robert Emad, who is from Assiut in the south, says that “falsified drugs do not kill the patient”, noting that his experience with fake drugs he has discovered is weak or ineffective, but their manufacturers do not intend to poison them to kill patients. In his interview with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, he believes that “the recent number of injection deaths hints at the existence of a defect not known globally, which was recently caused by the Corona vaccines in the bodies, as indicated by international research, he said, which caused the inability of the body, especially the body of children, to tolerate known antibiotics. He says that he advises his patients not to receive injections in health centers, in order to avoid any trouble that might happen to him.
The authorities accuse the pharmacist of being the last and direct link in dealing with the patient, and dozens of pharmacists have been prosecuted in the past few years on charges of giving patients counterfeit drugs or injecting them with antibiotics without conducting a known sensitivity test. Mohamed Fouda, a pharmacist from Cairo, defends pharmacists, saying: “The pharmacist gets full boxes of medicine from well-known shops, while the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population focuses only on inspecting pharmacies, leaving distribution companies and shops that are not licensed and do not meet the requirements.”
90% of the market is full of fakes or drugs that have expired and they replace exp for not showing up. And the working hours of the doctor are known, but he has no conscience and takes because he has a big discount. .
– Arafah (@MohamedArfa303) October 15, 2022
In his interview with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, Muhammad accuses unscrupulous employees of large distribution companies of passing boxes of drugs that they know are not from approved pharmaceutical companies, but are manufactured in unlicensed laboratories and factories, which are later delivered to pharmacies. Muhammad asks, “Does the Department of Health want me to check the number of every package in every carton to make sure it’s really from the company that makes it?” He adds: “Of course it’s impossible. It’s illogical and the Ministry knows it. However, the pharmacist is an oblique wall (the weak side of the equation) who is easy to catch as a scapegoat for the weakness of the system.” The solution is not in the barcode that must be displayed on all packages, says a pharmacist from Giza Governorate, an authorized security officer. And he clarifies: “Whoever cheats on packages, will not find a way to forge a barcode”, stressing in an interview for “The New Arab” that “the ministry must also tighten control over warehouses”.
Umniah points out that “in some periods there is a boom in counterfeit drugs. Today it is ceftriaxone, and yesterday it was human albumin (used to supply the body with essential blood proteins in some pathological conditions that lead to low blood protein levels), requiring drugstores to be supervised and owned by pharmacists, not former employees.” In drugstores, as is the case now, by canceling applications for the online sale of drugs, because he considers this to be one of the reasons for the corruption of the drug market.
Pediatrician Omar Ezzat writes on his Facebook page: “I noticed in one of the pharmacies that the Cefaxon 500 syringe turned white after dissolving, noting that its color tends to be yellow. The pharmacist wanted to inject it to the girl, so I warned him about its color, so agreed with me, and I asked him about its source, so he checked his billing entry, and we knew it was from a certain store.” He adds: “I called the store after hours and informed them that your Cefaxon 500 injections are not correct. I was told that our work was correct, so I asked him to inspect the quantities he had, but he refused.”
He states that he contacted the Health Administration to report the existence of falsified Cefaxon injections, told them that he himself was a witness and that he asked for an inspection of the points of sale, but “there is no life for those who call”. He stated that the pharmacist, in order to absolve himself from responsibility, returned the medicine to the warehouse from which he brought it. He attributes the spread of counterfeit medicines to the negativity of certain doctors and pharmacists towards such cases, stating that he contacted pharmacy owners he knew and informed them of the need to review the color of cefaxon injections, just to pay off the debt, within the limits of his capabilities.
He concluded his testimony by saying, “The conversation does not affect Pharco (the drug manufacturer) or any respectable company. Rather, the problem is that some drug stores are doing business with shady places to buy drugs at a higher discount rate without concern for the source. .”
In addition, Professor of Internal Medicine, Liver and Gastroenterology Amr Kabil advises doctors and pharmacists to act optimally in this case, and to send a sample of the counterfeit medicine to inform the original manufacturer about the operational number affixed to the medicine’s packaging. , and informing the State Attorney’s Office about the warehouse where the other quantities are located for taking over the substance. The new regular course is to send samples to the Ministry of Health.
In addition to Cevatrexion, administrations at Cairo hospitals have warned against giving other antibiotic names, such as Unictam, Zoraxone or long-acting penicillin, while doctors say those names are approved by Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population. However, the packaging of medicines of the same name spread and caused health problems for patients, and it turned out that they were not original, and some of them were bought by patients on the Internet, not in pharmacies, looking for a return to the constant in every profession in order to eliminate all evils, without while not being drawn into the discounts that distribution companies offer to pharmacists in order to increase their profits.
For his part, the ordinal doctor Saber Muhammad believes that the economic situation forces “weak-minded drugstore owners and procurement managers in distribution companies, in agreement with some pharmacies, to pass out non-original drugs”, stressing in his interview for “The New Arab” that the depreciation of the pound in turn reduced the percentage of profit with the increase in the prices of everything, and the pharmacy has to sell at the official price, and the drugs are the only thing that the price in Egypt has not yet increased, so the solution was to reduce the unlicensed factories for the active substance to save money and buy pharmacists from companies that are not aligned.
Saber has stopped prescribing antibiotic injections to its patients, as they are now the most susceptible to fraud, replacing them with liquid drugs and pills. He says that manufacturers of counterfeit drugs know very well what they are doing, because they choose the names of large companies that produce well-known drugs and have demand, and design packages that match their packages, and inside them is a drug with a low active substance.
On the other hand, an official in the Medical Profession Company for Pharmaceuticals, who declined to be named, says that the issue of the mentioned deaths caused by an injection or a particular drug is a big exaggeration to cancel the names of well-known drugs of the company that have their own reputation and history, pointing out that cases of drug fraud are not without a country and cannot be completely eliminated. Doctors and pharmacists are obliged to carefully warn about the names of medicines and use official reporting methods, so as not to create confusion on social networks. He continues: “Companies are forced, in order to avoid unfair competition and hitting each other below the belt, to offer the same active substance under the name of another product, after damaging the reputation of the first product.”
It is reported that when the management of the company became aware of the fraud in one of its products, the Unictam injection (an injection used to treat bacterial infections), it took a series of successive measures costing millions of pounds, out of respect for its name and products at the expense of their profits. The company has launched a technical application that helps patients and pharmacists to make sure of the safety of the medicine, by entering the data pasted on the purchased packages. However, users of the application state that it is ineffective, and that it does not give any results, neither negative nor positive, in addition to the absence of barcodes on the packages of drugs such as Alfintern, Flagyl and Neuroton.