Pharmacists under their umbrella body, the Uganda Pharmacy Owners Association (UPOA) have blamed the National Drug Authority for failure in its mandate.
On Tuesday UPOA members led by their legal counsel Deo Kalikumutima appeared before the Parliamentary Health Committee accused NDA of double standards when it issued guidelines stopping opening of new pharmacies in Kampala but allowed their own hospitals to open up the same facilities despite the ban.
“NDA’s ban has only applied to stand alone pharmacies while hospitals have been allowed to open the same despite the ban,”Kalikumutima told parliament.
“Medical centres including that owned by the NDA chairman, Dr.Medard Bitekyerezo continue to operate illegal drug outlets in contravention of the licensing guidelines for new pharmacies.”
The pharmacists alleged that despite all pharmacies in private hospitals, medical centres and other institutions being required to apply for licences from NDA, many are operating without the same.
“We note that one of these facilities operated an illegal drug outlet next to the NDA offices in Nakawa.”
They also claimed a conflict of interest in the work of NDA since it is also undertaking business transactions with the same people it regulates, adding that they have lost confidence in its ability to remain impartial in regulation of drugs in the country.
UPOA also claimed that according to the NDA act, all drugs imported are required to be in the national formulary but noted that this is not available currently.
They also claim that NDA has failed to curb the mushrooming illegal drug shops causing unfair competition with pharmacies.
NDA’s regulations provide for drug shops to be located at least 1.5 km from a pharmacy but according to UPOA,this is not the case.
“For every pharmacy, there is between one to four illegal drug shops surrounding it but NDA has failed to deal with this only to put most of its focus on pharmacies,”Kalikumutima told parliament.
They urged that NDA regulates the mushrooming drug shops and dedicate a section of its staff to be responsible for compliance of drug shops and medical centres to its requirements.