Negative Effects for Smuggling of Medicines [Archives:2000/38/Health]

September 18 2000

Dr. Abdu M. Shidiwa
It is a known fact that medicines are dangerous and sensitive materials. That is why dealing with it requires a great deal of attention and knowledge. Also that medicines are produced in well studied manners and complicated steps by highly qualified people for the sake of healing diseases. Therefore medicines are very prompt to getting spoiled due to high temperature or humidity, and all those factors could retransform the medicine from a healing element into a poisonous material. Such changes in medicines could be discovered easily if the smell, color or even taste has changed. But some medicines do not show any physical changes even if the composition has changed, and here lies the danger. Also there are many unlicensed companies which produce medicines and smuggle them in and out of countries, and upon using could create hazardous results such as cancers, kidney failures and digestive system problems.. etc.
These diseases on the long-run, affect the society as a whole and as a result produce a sick, unproductive and unhealthy generation dependent on others for its basic needs.
Side effects resulting from using smuggled drugs and medication materials are many and cover important health and other social aspects.

1. Kidney failure – cancers – digestive system – immunity system deficiencies, are among the most important diseases which are caused by taking smuggled medicines.
2. Antibiotics which are used in a less concentrated degree than required cause the bacteria to gain immunity against the body, which make it difficult to cure using antibiotics with the right concentration. These less concentrated antibiotics and other medicines which do not live up to the (GMP) standards, are manufactured only for the sake of financial gains, and the most concern for companies which produce such medicines is how to distribute the products for maximum gain.
3. There are specific storing requirements for medicine in general and plasma and vaccine in particular regarding light, temperature and humidity. And so, any change in those requirements makes those medicines less effective and worse, poisonous. Especially when used by those patients who suffer from blood pressure problems or are diabetic.

Social and Economic:
1. the spread of such illegal disciplines creates drawbacks in the real authorized field and hence national workers and employees suffer from the outside market, which may cause unemployment and increases poverty rate in the country.
2. It creates a class or segment in the society which works on smuggling and illegal activities which affect the social and moral status of the society as a whole. Such segments become wealthy rapidly and it becomes very difficult to bring them back to the usual standards and mentality of the common man.
3. Hard currency is wasted because of the complications existing in importing procedures
4. The national income is wasted due to smuggling of medicines. Taxes and customs are wasted completely, because smuggled medicines do not come through the ports.
5. The level of experience among the national cadres deteriorates due to the spread of the smuggling circle and how they dont spare an effort to take advantage of wars and natural tragedies.

What needs to be done:
The phenomenon of smuggling is a dangerous one, and it is important to take necessary steps to stop. Especially that it has taken sharp turns in affecting our economic and social situations. And if care is not taken now, it might be very difficult to overcome it in the future due to the advancement in this field day after day. And not only national or Arab elements are involved, but also people of foreign nationalities, forming gangs and international groups working illegally.
In fact it is obvious now how effected the countrys economic status is, and therefore there are some suggestions to limit this phenomenon, and to keep it under control:
1. Efforts should be taken to provide medicines through legal channels for the public and from trustworthy sources with good reputations, as well reasonable prices.
2. The high body in charge of medicine should make sure the procedures for registration of medicines is made easily, keeping in mind rules and regulations that guarantee quality. And not make the procedure complicated and costly.
3. Encouragement of importing medicines from good sources and conducting regular researches about the advantages of import-export activities and their use in raising the national income.
4. Activation of monitoring in both laboratories and field work so as to limit the spread of smuggled medicines and to keep track of products and their quality.
5. The activation of media role in this regard, as to spread awareness among the public. To let the ordinary man know the disadvantages of using such medicines even if they were cheaper in cost.
6. Conferences and lectures should be held in most of the educational places and interested corporations should sponsor such activities for the sake of the societys benefit at all levels.
7. Drawing a plan which should be followed up to solve the current situation and take precautions for the future as well.
8. Stating of rules and regulations that stop this phenomenon and find practical solutions for it.
9. Creation of a council that includes members from (customs, taxes, health, and internal affairs) to plan the ways and methods which should be put to action, because with the corporation between all these sides more useful information would be in hand.
10. Finally, the activation of the high body for medicines, especially on the monitoring side. As well as regular follow-up of the rules which are put to improve the local cadres and talents so that we keep pace with international qualifications.

If there is a final word to be said about the smuggling topic in general and smuggling of medicines in particular, it could be summarized in that this phenomenon is very dangerous and has tragic effect on the society, not only on the people using such drugs, but also the ones who work in such illegal jobs. They have lost their loyalty to their country and do not know the extent, which they are betraying their own people and place for money.
This affects our country socially, economically and national health as well. We need to clean our society from such diseases, so that we are able to actually walk into the 21 century with confidence, feeling safe and knowing that we have created a society clean and healthy.