Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman Manu, in a dated letter May 10, 2017, directed the Chief Executive Officer of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to take necessary steps to implement the ban.
The Minister exercised the powers conferred on him by section 116 of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851).
The ban must excite local pharmaceutical producers, who have consistently appealed to government to ban the importation of liquid medicines such as cough syrups, antacids and blood tonics, which can be produced locally.
According to Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana (PMAG), the banning of such medicines would help to grow the industry and provide employment to thousands of Ghanaian youth.
Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Pharmacy Ghana, Anthony Ameka, welcomed the ban saying it was “desperately needed by local manufacturers”.
Research has revealed that only 30 per cent of the market is covered by local production, with the bulk of drugs imported from India and China.
The latest Oxford Business Group report shows that although more than 75 percent of pharmaceutical companies in Ghana are locally-owned.
The local pharmaceutical industry, despite the huge potential, is confronted with a myriad of challenges ranging from the National Health Insurance Authority’s (NHIA) inability to pay monies owed local producers as well as the lack of credit at sound interest rates.
Ameka said with the ban, the local manufacturers can employ more people and it would boost the local pharmaceutical industry.
In the gazette document, the FDA shall not accept a new application for the registration of a medicine on the restricted list unless the applicant is in respect of a locally-produced medicine.
However, the gazette said a medicine registered before the implementation of the restricted list shall continue to be imported until the registration period of the medicine expires.
According to the document, a medicine registered before the implementation of the restricted list, which is lodged with FDA before the implementation of the restriction, shall be accepted and taken through the requisite registration process for a marketing authorisation to be either granted or denied.
It explained that where FDA grants marketing authorisation, the medicine shall be allowed to be imported into Ghana until the registration period of the medicine expires.
It added that the restriction shall not apply to an innovator brand of the medicines indicated on the restricted list.
On December 6, 2016, the document was sent by Alex Segbefia to the Attorney-Generals Department for gazette.
The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) owes service providers some GH?1.2 billion covering a 12-month period of arrears.
In April, the Health Minister, Kweku Agyemang Manu, promised the 12-months arrears were going to be settled.
At a business meeting with donor partners, the Minister said government could pay one month arrears in May.
According to him, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) was to pay its indebtedness by end of this month which can cover between three and four months arrears owed the service providers.
The Minister also pledged that government would settle additional four months by end of July while seeking funding from a source to pay off the rest of the arrears.
Ameka said payment to NHIS suppliers should be regular for NHIA to pay manufacturers
According to him, long indebtedness would cripple local manufacturers and create shortages in the system.