NDA impounds drugs worth Shs 300mln

FORT PORTAL, September 27, 2023 – The National Drug Authority [NDA] in a joint targeted operation with police has impounded drugs worth Shs 300 million and arrested seven suspects in connection with illegal possession and sale of government drugs and other medical supplies in Ntoroko and Kyenjojo districts.

According to NDA spokesperson, Abiaz Rwamwiru, they carried out the intelligence-led operation where they impounded several government drugs and medical supplies. These included more than 100 tins of ARVs, 80 cartons of malaria test strips, 100 boxes of HIV and Hepatitis B test strips, several dozes of unpacked antibiotics and paracetamol, and 12 jerrycans of laboratory reagents.

While addressing journalists at Rwenzori West regional police offices in Fort Portal city on Monday, Rwamwiru identified the suspects as Samuel Lan Mwesige the in charge Bweramule Health Centre III, Mary Mbabazi the acting stores in-charge, and Alex Mbusa a porter at the same facility in Ntoroko district.

“Other suspects include AIP Yusuf Kule Katuramu a health officer at Kyenjojo police health center III, Denis Blessing the proprietor of Denis Pharmaceuticals, Isaiah Isingoma and Tom Bwambale all from Kyenjojo district,” Rwamwiru said.

Rwamwiru revealed that Mbusa was found in possession of drugs at his home and confessed that he sells them to brokers who smuggle them into the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC].

“Mbusa confessed that together with his enablers he has been selling drugs to brokers who have been taking them to DRC,” he said.

He added that Blessing has been masquerading as a pharmacist at Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital and running an illegal pharmacy [Denis Pharmaceuticals] in Kyenjojo and operating an unlicenced mobile distribution using motorcycles in Kitagwenda, Kyegegwa and Kyenjojo targeting remote areas of Kyarusozi where he [Blessing] thought police and NDA would not reach.

“From Blessing’s illegal pharmacy, we impounded over 32 cartons of assorted drugs which we suspect that they were relabeled and repackaged government drugs,” Rwamwiru said.

Rwamwiru said stealing of drugs meant for government facilities deprives the public of their right to access healthcare and has long-lasting consequences on the county’s development and loss of trust in government-owned health centres.

“Drugs and testing kits which were recovered were not stored properly which definitely compromises their safety, quality and effectiveness. Some of the health and the casual workers who are incompetent put the lives of Ugandans at a very high risk,” Rwamwiru noted.

He added that drugs are very sensitive and need to be kept at a certain temperature and yet some of them were recovered from a sealing where temperatures are always very high.

According to the Rwenzori West police spokesperson, Vincent Twesige, the suspects are held at Fort Portal Police Station and will be produced in court to answer charges of unlawful possession of government stores contrary to section 316 of the Penal Code Act, carrying on a business of a pharmacist without a licence contrary to section 14 [3] of the National Drug Authority Act /Policy as well as unlawful possession of clarified drugs.

Twesige said culprits working with government will be charged with corruption and abuse of office.

Rwamwiru warned all government officials and the general public to desist from stealing drugs meant for government facilities but also appealed to the public to report to NDA whoever is selling government drugs.

“I urge the general public to be vigilant and report to NDA anybody found selling government drugs,” he said.

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