In response to recent media reports alleging the distribution of defective erythromycin to public health facilities, the Zambia Medicines and Medical Supplies Agency (ZAMMSA) has issued a press statement to set the record straight and reassure the public about the safety of procured medicines.
Contrary to claims circulating in certain media circles, ZAMMSA clarified that the medicine in question, Erythromycin, part of the recently procured Health Centre Kits supplied by Missionpharma, has been effectively quarantined pending further tests and investigations.
According to Bradley Chingobe, Senior Manager Public Relations at ZAMMSA, the health center kits underwent compliance and pre-distribution testing by the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) National Drug Quality Control Laboratory (NDQCL).
Mr. Chingobe noted that on October 25th, 2023, ZAMRA reported that a batch of Erythromycin Stearate Tablets BP 250mg (Batch No. TK293) was found non-compliant with the dissolution test.
He stated that ZAMMSA promptly informed the supplier, Missionpharma, and agreed to use a third-party independent laboratory for retesting.
The Research Institute of Industrial Pharmacy (RIIP) at the Centre for the Quality Assurance of Medicines (CENQAM) in South Africa, a WHO pre-qualified lab, has been nominated for conducting the third tests.
Out of the 7050 kits, Mr. Chingobe noted that 983 were found to have compliant erythromycin. To prevent further delays in distribution, the non-compliant product was removed from the remaining 6,067 kits.
Missionpharma sent a representative to supervise the process, and the kits are being distributed without the non-compliant product. All removed Erythromycins are under quarantine pending conclusive test results.
Mr. Chingobe emphasized that ZAMMSA is following standard operating procedures, and the results from the third-party testing will dictate the next course of action, guided by the contract’s terms and conditions.
He assured the public that there is no need to panic, and the results will be shared once conclusive.
He stated that the Ministry of Health and ZAMMSA are committed to ensuring the safety of all medicines and medical supplies, highlighting that this situation underscores the effectiveness of systems in place to ensure the quality, safety, and efficacy of medicines in Zambia.