Information Secretary Nick Mangwana said speculation that the government may be dispensing expired drugs might have emanated from yesterday’s tour of National Pharmaceutical Company warehouses by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga who is currently acting President.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe this week said NatPharm was dispensing drugs that were about to expire to retailers but its president Portia Mwendera said this should not be of concern because most of the medicines were on high demand and were usually consumed in the short term.
Junior doctors, who are on strike, also said that some of the medication which is being peddled as stocks was beyond expiry date.
Mangwana said the government takes the welfare of patients seriously and does not distribute expired medicines.
He said, however, there were some expired drugs in the NatPharm warehouses but these were kept separately as the process of disposing of these drugs took anything from six to nine months.
“Expired medication cannot be disposed of without a formal process that involves instituting a Board of Survey to scrutinise and verify the medicines targeted for destruction,” he said in a statement.
“The board goes through all expired medicines, item by item, and provides the monetary value of such medication.
“The expired medicine is only destroyed after Treasury has authorized such destruction through the issuance of a Certificate of Destruction.
“The destruction is witnessed by the Environment Management Agency in conjunction with the Environmental Health Department of the Ministry of Health and Childcare and is also independently witnessed and documented.”
Mangwana said before the destruction, the expired medication is kept on separate pallets in the same warehouse, but in a different aisle, with unexpired medication because of storage space limitations.
He said that up to the end of the third quarter this year expired drugs in the country’s health systems were below 1 percent of all drugs available.
“We are aware that during the tour of NatPharm facilities by the Acting President, Hon Vice President Chiwenga on 27 December 2018, some members of the media photographed boxes of expired medication in the designated aisle which may have been the basis of the misrepresentation that expired drugs are being dispensed,” he said.
“We place on record and emphasise that expired is not for use by patients.
Mangwana said anyone who questioned the quality of medication supplied to them should contact the regulator, the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe.