Threats Posed by Stockpiles of Expired Pharmaceuticals in Low- And Middle-income Countries: A Ugandan Perspective
(2017; 5 pages)


In some low- and middle-income countries, the national stores and public-sector health facilities contain large stocks of pharmaceuticals that are past their expiry dates. In low-income countries like Uganda, many such stockpiles are the result of donations. If not adequately monitored or regulated, expired pharmaceuticals may be repackaged and sold as counterfeits or be dumped without any thought of the potential environmental damage. The rates of pharmaceutical expiry in the supply chain need to be reduced and the disposal of expired pharmaceuticals needs to be made both timely and safe. Many low- and middle-income countries need to: (i) strengthen public systems for medicines’ management, to improve inventory control and the reliability of procurement forecasts; (ii) reduce stress on central medical stores, through liberalization and reimbursement schemes; (iii) strengthen the regulation of drug donations; (iv) explore the salvage of officially expired pharmaceuticals, through re-analysis and possible shelf-life extension; (v) strengthen the enforcement of regulations on safe drug disposal; (vi) invest in an infrastructure for such disposal, perhaps based on ultra-high-temperature incinerators; and (vii) include user accountability for expired pharmaceuticals within the routine accountability regimes followed by the public health sector.

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