Ports challenges lock up coronavirus drugs

Essential drugs meant for the treatment of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) patients are locked up at the ports, awaiting clearance, due to the challenges faced at the ports by the newly introduced Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS), designed by UNIPASS.

With recorded cases currently standing at more than 10,000, and more than 6,000 active cases, pharmaceutical industry players are getting worried about possible expiration of these drugs and when finally cleared could also result in higher prices due to demurrages and other charges as a result of late clearance.

The Chamber of Pharmacy, Ghana and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana have sent out distress calls to the Ministry of Health and Port Authorities to assist in clearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Vitamin C drugs and some other medications which have been locked up at the port but urgently needed for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.

“Vitamin C is almost in short supply now; we need a lot of Vitamin C but now they are locked up. PPE are also locked up; these are things that are needed to fight COVID-19. We have tried to speak to all the bodies that matter, telling them about the urgency of the situation but we are yet to get any positive result,” the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Chamber of Pharmacy Ghana, Anthony Ameka told the B&FT in an interview.

A statement issued by Chamber of Pharmacy, Ghana and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana added that: “The cumbersome processes under the new system operated by UNIPASS has proven very costly for our members in terms of time and actual value of service at the ports.

The virtual manual process has resulted in delays in the clearing of pharmaceutical imports, which has come with the risk of high cost in demurrage. The frustrations of the slow and unwieldy processes caused by the system rather than the importers has also placed our members at the mercy of the same system, with the prospects of further cost in penalties of various kinds.”

Drugs could expire before clearance