Protecting Patients: Improving Pharmaceutical Regulation with GPS Data in Guinea

Related Supply Chain Topics
September 24, 2019
Lead Paragraph/Summary

In Guinea, challenges in establishing regulations to govern the pharmaceutical sector have allowed for unregulated and illicit private pharmacies to proliferate. The presence of these establishments increases a patient’s risk of receiving counterfeit or low-quality medicines.

Recognizing this problem and the potential negative impact on the health and well-being of patients, the Guinean Ministry of Health (MOH) partnered with the USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program-Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project to combat the growth of the illicit pharmaceutical industry.

map shows country of guinea with pins dropped to demonstrate location of pharmacies
map shows country of guinea with pins dropped to demonstrate location of pharmacies
GPS data points of private pharmaceutical organizations in Guinea. Photo Credit: GHSC-PSM
Body Text

Many Guinean patients rely on both the public health system and private pharmacies to obtain medications. Private pharmacies include pharmaceutical wholesalers, medical industries, promotional agencies, and points of sale. These private pharmaceutical establishments are often unregulated and present the greatest risks to patients.

GHSC-PSM, in close collaboration with the MOH Directorate of Pharmacies and Medicine (DNPM), engaged in an exercise to geographically map all private pharmaceutical locations in Guinea to create a comprehensive database. By auditing and geographically tagging all private pharmaceutical institutions in Guinea, DNPM could then identify those locations that were unregulated and least compliant.

During the exercise, GHSC-PSM engaged students from local universities and trained them as data collectors. The students traveled throughout the country with electronic surveys to gather the qualitative and quantitative geographic information needed for the mapping exercise. The students gained on-the-job experience in survey and data collection and were exposed to the realities of the Guinean supply chain system. As potential future supply chain professionals, the students built their capacity and knowledge in supply chain structures and will be better prepared to improve Guinea’s supply chain in the future.

The student-collected data identified 811 pharmaceutical institutions in Guinea, with 75 percent of those operating without appropriate licenses.

Results of the data collection exercise pinpointed pharmacies in breach of compliance regulations. These included nearly 25 percent located at addresses that differed from their addresses on record with the official government pharmaceutical regulatory authority. Likewise, all pharmacies must be managed by pharmacists registered with National Order of Pharmacists of Guinea. Survey results showed nearly 50 percent of private pharmacies were managed by unregistered pharmacists.

So far, this data has been used by the MOH to inform the introduction of 20 national policies that will promote proper regulation of private pharmacies and address other compliance issues. Examples of regulations include a ministerial order creating conditions of ownership and functionality of pharmaceutical wholesalers and distributors. Another ministerial order created the Medicrime Repression Brigade, tasked with investigating suspected crimes and criminals involved in counterfeiting and violating the newly passed regulations.

Through the GPS mapping of private pharmacies in Guinea, the government will be able to continue protecting the health and well-being of its citizens. The data collected is actively informing policy-making to bolster pharmaceutical regulations and combat unregulated pharmacies and counterfeit medications. GHSC-PSM will continue to support Guinea’s efforts to ensure the health and safety of all those in need.   

GHSC-PSM technical assistance is reforming the pharmaceutical regulatory sector in Guinea and ensuring patients in need receive genuine and high-quality life-saving medications.