The National Drug Authority (NDA) has been accused of operating illegally by pharmacy Owners under their umbrella body Uganda Pharmacy Owners Association (UPOA).
While appearing before the Parliament Health Committee chaired by Bukuya County MP, Michael Bukenya on Tuesday, pharmacy owners led by their Legal Counsel Deo Kalikumutima asked Parliament to halt the current activities of NDA.
The meeting was follow up to their January petition to the Speaker protesting NDA licensing guidelines.
Kalikumutima argued that National Drug Authority and Policy Act provides for various positions of the authority in the board and in the secretariat but the authority is currently not fully constituted and lacks a representative from the Pharmaceutical society of Uganda (PSU).
“There is currently no quorum at the NDA board since there is no representative from PSU. If PSU had a representative in NDA most of the issues raised by Pharmacy owners would have been channeled through the representative since some of the owners are pharmacists,” Kalikumutima said.
Pharmacy owners accuse NDA for levying high taxes on drugs in terms of verification fees that has led to high cost of medicines. They say NDA is over depending on fees paid by Pharmacy owners.
“We are concerned that the funds collected are used on wasteful expenditure in office construction estimated at Shs27bn, rent of space estimated at over Sh1bn despite NDA having its own offices, planned construction of another laboratory,” Kalikumutima said.
UPOA has proposed that the construction projects be halted and resources put on getting equipment for testing vaccines and enhancing capacity of NDA in regulation to the ultimate benefit.
“NDA should relocate back to its office to save costs until an appropriate time when court cases are disposed off and no further contract renewals made for rent of the office premises,” pharmacy owners say.
NDA has also been accused of failing to curb mushrooming illegal drug shops, hence causing unfair competition with authentic Pharmacies.
“NDA continues to allow both illegal and licensed drug shops to exist less than 1.5km existing pharmacies. We note that NDA has put little efforts to curb the mushrooming illegal drug shops and has put most of its focus on Pharmacies,” the further say.
The committee has scheduled a meeting with NDA officials on Wednesday to respond on the issues raised by the Pharmacy owners.
In the earlier meeting with Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, pharmacy owners claimed that NDA operations had been hijacked by curtail owners who dictate the Authority’s policies to push out other pharmacy owners out of business with ambiguous guidelines.
Kadaga wondered how NDA would halt licensing of new pharmacies in a free market economy like Uganda.