• Saturday, February 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Safeguarding lives: How pharma QA protects patients in Africa (and beyond)

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Pharmaceutical quality assurance holds a paramount position in the intricate web of drug manufacturing. Encompassing every facet that could impact the quality of pharmaceutical products, it ensures that medicines adhere to industry standards from inception to production and through to final distribution.

The core objective of pharmaceutical quality assurance is to guarantee that manufactured medications deliver the intended effects while adhering to stringent quality standards and regulations. Beyond benefiting patients, quality assurance plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the reputations and profitability of pharmaceutical companies, shielding them from regulatory penalties.

Collaborative strategies for Africa’s pharma Quality Assurance

It is imperative for African governments and stakeholders to forge innovative strategies to fortify the continent’s pharmaceutical quality assurance capabilities. This collaborative effort is crucial for ensuring the availability of safe medicines that meet global standards.

Functions of pharmaceutical Quality Assurance

To comprehend the indispensable role of pharmaceutical quality assurance in strengthening Africa’s pharmaceutical industry, it is vital to scrutinise its key functions:

Ensuring drug safety and efficacy

Quality assurance verifies the safety of drugs by preventing defective and non-compliant products from reaching patients. This includes assessing drug stability under varying conditions, such as temperature and humidity, to ensure long-term safety and effectiveness.
Compliance with healthcare regulations

Given the profound impact of pharmaceuticals on public health, strict adherence to quality standards is non-negotiable. Quality assurance, through the implementation of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), ensures compliance with industry regulations, including meticulous equipment calibration, detailed documentation, and rigorous testing.

Building trust and reputation

Trust in pharmaceutical companies is intricately linked to legal compliance. Quality assurance is a prerequisite for long-term success, enhancing confidence not only in current products but also in future releases. It mitigates risks associated with poor quality control and safeguards the reputation of pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Addressing public health challenges in low- and middle-income countries

Despite the global imperative for pharmaceutical quality assurance, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), especially in sub-Saharan Africa, face a growing challenge. Poor-quality medicines represent a significant portion of the market, posing threats to individual and public health. To combat this issue, Africa’s pharmaceutical industry must bolster its quality assurance capacity to ensure the production of safe and effective medicines.

Overcoming workforce challenges in pharma Quality Assurance

A significant hurdle in implementing quality assurance in Africa’s pharmaceutical industry is the scarcity of trained personnel with the requisite skill set. Traditional undergraduate pharmacy training falls short in providing the specialised knowledge needed for comprehensive quality assurance programs.

Bloom Public Health advocates for the establishment of a pharmaceutical training academy to bridge this gap. By providing specific training to recent graduates, the academy aims to equip them with the skills to conduct quality testing, report issues, and protect the public. This initiative would create a skilled workforce ready to contribute to pharmaceutical firms and collaborate effectively with regulatory agencies.

Given the critical role of pharmaceutical quality assurance in protecting public health, it is imperative for African governments and stakeholders to join forces, develop innovative strategies, and invest in capacity building. Strengthening Africa’s pharmaceutical quality assurance is not just a necessity; it is a commitment to safeguarding lives and ensuring access to safe medicines for all.