CEO's Statement on the AKI Cases
Our company joins the rest of the world in mourning the death of the 69 innocent Gambian children linked to a drug-induced kidney injury. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of all the victims. At this point in time, given the mood of national mourning, we have been debating how we should respond to this crisis given that we are a leading company in the distribution and dispensing of pharmaceutical products. We have listened with keen interest to the new policy pronouncements and measures that the Government has announced in respect of this tragedy. These measures are focused on limiting any further damage caused by imported pharmaceuticals and uncovering the root causes of the system failures that led to this situation. We hope these measures will have the desired effect, and we look forward to seeing the outcome of these investigations.
Meanwhile, based on the number of queries and inquiries that we have received, we feel it is important that we assure our patients and their sponsors in the diaspora that none of our medications (over the counter and/or prescription) were in any way involved in this or any other similar incident related to sub-standard pharmaceuticals.
Fidelity towards uncompromised quality is the bedrock of our company ethos and the reason why our entire medication inventory has always been sourced from reputable pharmaceutical companies in the United States by our US-based parent company. The strict consumer protection mechanisms of the FDA and the reputation of our distributors gives us a security blanket and quality assurance cover that we extend to the Gambian People.
In addition, besides closely vetting our sources, our pharmacy operation in the Gambia is aligned to United States standards and runs on electronic prescription processing. This technology allows us to track every single prescription that we have dispensed since we opened our doors.
None of this is by accident: it was all by design.
When we started our journey in the Gambia in December 2019, we were aware of the pharmaceutical vulnerabilities of the entire sub-region given the proliferation of sub-standard medications. The damage it has done over the decades is unquantifiable.
It is a well-known fact that the counterfeit drugs industry is a Billion Dollar Industry around the world, and Africa accounts for 40% to 50% of the world’s substandard medications. We estimate that 1 in 2 medications that our people are exposed to would not pass quality control in a western country like the USA. This lack of probity invariably presents in one of two ways.
- The drug may contain little or none of the active ingredient on which the effectiveness of the medication hinges. (e.g., Metformin 500mg made only with 100mg); and/or
- It may contain harmful inactive ingredients (e.g., anti-freeze) because it was manufactured in facilities that do not meet the WHO GMP (Good Manufacturing Standards) — and the counterfeit drugs industry is very intentional about taking advantage of those nations which have a relatively weak regulatory environment and lack the laboratory infrastructure to conduct regular quality control
This latest event is therefore not an isolated one, and in our view, it is only a microcosm of a bigger problem across the region.
While we hope the nation heals through decisive and corrective action, we want to remind all citizens that as key stakeholders in the ecosystem, they should always apply proper scrutiny when seeking medication.
We thank every one of our patients, diaspora customers and company shareholders for the continued trust and unrelenting support they have given us over the course of our first three years. Despite the challenges, we remain confident in our business proposition, and we believe we are ideally positioned to make a significant difference in the lives of our customers and/or their sponsors over time.
As a result, we remain steadfast in our mission to become access equalizers and will continuously strive to restore the dignity back into our people through excellence in service delivery.
Dr. Ismail Badjie