In a significant move aiming to secure the health and well-being of its citizens, the Government of The Gambia has decided to permanently revoke the importation license of Atlantic Pharmaceutical Company Limited. This critical decision was issued on 21st July 2023, following the release of a report by the Presidential Task Force on Acute Kidney Injury (AKI), citing the severe fallout from the AKI-related deaths of seventy children attributed to the Atlantic Pharmaceutical Company’s drugs.
The comprehensive report by the Presidential Task Force on AKI didn’t just stop at the revocation of Atlantic Pharmaceutical Company’s importation license, it also recommended consequential actions on the parties involved. The task force further suggested that the Government of The Gambia should take stringent actions against Sait Kebbeh, the Supervising Pharmacist for Atlantic Pharmaceuticals. They recommended referring the matter to the Pharmacy Council, the appropriate authority for disciplinary proceedings.
Responding promptly to these recommendations, Dr. Samateh confirmed that the case against Sait Kebbeh would be immediately presented to the Pharmacy Council for the necessary disciplinary action. This firm stance exhibits the Government’s unyielding commitment to enforcing strict professional standards and accountability in the pharmaceutical sector.
In a bid to meet the growing demand for pharmacists in the country, the task force also proposed to the Government through the Pharmacy Council, Ministry of Higher Education Research Science and Technology, and the University of The Gambia, the essential need to establish a School of Pharmacy at the University of The Gambia.
An additional crucial recommendation focused on urging the Government of The Gambia to overhaul the laws and regulations surrounding the issuing of importation licenses. To ensure that license holders act responsibly and with accountability, stringent conditions need to be set in place rather than the current setup which appears to prioritize profit above all else.
Reacting positively to this recommendation, Minister Samateh confirmed that the Ministry of Health has already engaged an experienced firm currently undertaking a comprehensive review of all health-related legislation in the country. This move signifies the Government’s commitment to overhauling health regulations and fostering a healthier environment for its citizens.
The task force went a step further by suggesting that the Government of The Gambia, through the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, should actively consider instituting further legal action against Atlantic Pharmaceuticals and Maiden Pharmaceuticals. The report recommended engagement with the Government of India to seek both criminal and civil redress on behalf of the families affected by the tragic AKI outbreak.
Minister Samateh disclosed that the Government is already making considerable progress in exploring potential legal action against Atlantic Pharmaceuticals and Maiden Pharmaceuticals. The Government has also been in contact with a top-tier international law firm to get legal advice on pursuing redress with the Government of India.
In conclusion, this landmark decision by the Government of The Gambia serves as a wake-up call to the pharmaceutical industry. It sends a clear message that the safety and health of the people should always be the top priority, and any deviation from ethical practices will be met with stringent consequences. The significant reforms and actions initiated are indeed a stride towards ensuring a safer and healthier Gambia.