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The Ministry of Health (MoH) yesterday inaugurated a Bioequivalence and Biopharmaceutical Research Centre (CBBR) Steering Committee to support local production of generic medicines for critical public health concerns including Tuberculosis, Malaria and HIV/AIDS.
The 11-member committee has also been charged with an oversight responsibility to assist the MoH to help improve the quality of care in the health sector.
Dr Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, Minister of Health, inaugurating the committee, said the Centre would among others support local manufacturers in Ghana and others in the Economic Community of West African States to conduct bioequivalence studies at reduced costs on medicines developed in other regions before they are marketed locally, support drug regulatory activities, as well as clinical and other health research activities.
He said the establishment of the CBBR presented the opportunity for the usage of generic medicines to treat most common diseases in the country.
He said the reality in Ghana was that most essential drug policies, and perhaps income levels, required the usage of generic medicines and that the committee was timely to help in that direction.
“On the contrary, we need to put in place mechanisms that will allow us to ensure that generic medicines approved for use in this country meet stringent standards quality,” he said.
Dr Agyeman-Mensah noted that establishment of the Centre that would conduct bioequivalence and biopharmaceutical research required a continuum of process.
“At the initial phase there will be the need for collaboration with already existing clinical services facility, bio-analytical laboratory, analytical chemistry laboratory and a clinical laboratory.
“This may span over a reasonable time frame of about five years and will lead to a more permanent phase culminating in the establishment of a one-stop bioequivalence and biopharmaceutical testing and research Centre,” he said.
The Minister observed that as an independent and autonomous center being established under the public private partnership arrangement, it would be committed to generating its own funds, as well as operating to meet international pharmaceutical standards in bioavailability and bioequivalence research for the entire West African Region.
“The sustainability of the Centre will be primarily dependent on the patronage of its services by manufacturing companies in the region for bioequivalence testing and training,” he said.
He, however, urged the committee to critically examine the socio-democratic nature of the regime, and formulate plans and programmes that could cater for the welfare of the people and enhance the work of the Centre as well as the Ministry.
“Improving the management of health product is a high-leverage opportunity to improve health services,” he said.
Mrs Syibil Osei-Agyeman-Yeboah, Professional Officer, Essential Medicines and Vaccines, West Africa Health Organizers, on behalf of the committee, thanked the Minister for the confidence reposed in them, and called for collective efforts as well as co-operation of members to achieve the set objectives.