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Govt moves in to control herbal medicines

By Bridget Mananavire

Government through the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) has moved in to control complementary medicines, which include herbal medicines, as the country records an influx of the products.

The products which include but not limited to those of Forever Living, Greenworld, Tiens and others will now be required to be registered before they can be distributed to the public.

Many Zimbabweans have turned to the products as remedies and prevention of diseases as the official health facilities become a preserve of the wealthy.

The non-availability and unaffordability of drugs in hospitals and pharmacies has pushed people to look for alternatives, making complementary medicines popular.

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“All complementary medicines require market authorisation before importation, distribution and sale in Zimbabwe. This includes products from network marketers.

“Product authorisation in the form of an approval certificate is required by port authorities before importation of any complementary medicine,” MCAZ projects and public relations officer Shingai Gwatidzo said in response to questions on the control of the medicines.

“Products may undergo a variety of tests which include microbial analysis and quality tests of the active ingredients within the product.”

MCAZ had given distributors and importers a May 31 deadline to apply for the authorisation for the medicines in a final notice earlier this year.

“Applicants, distributors and importers who hold letters of ‘no objection’ issued prior to the gazetting of the Medicines and Allied Substances Control (complimentary medicines Regulations, 2015, SI 97 of 2015 (herein after referred to as the Regulations), may now submit application for approval of their products by May 31, 2017.

“The letters of “no objection” will no longer be valid after May 31, 2017. Submission of application will ensure continued legal distribution of the affected products even prior to the review and approval of the applications in accordance with section 31 of the Regulations,” the final notice reads.

“Applicants, distributors and importers who fail to submit their applications by end of day May 31, 2017 shall be required to remove their products from the market. The authority wishes to advise that the sale of unapproved complementary medicines by unlicensed or unauthorised persons is an offence.”

According to government regulations, complementary medicine means “any substance or mixture of substances which is used, or is manufactured, sold or represented as suitable for use, in- (a) the mitigation or prevention of disease or abnormal physical mental state or the symptoms thereof in human beings or in animals; (b) restoring, correcting or modifying any physical, mental or organic function in man or in animals; which originates from a plant, mineral, animal or insect and includes substances generally referred to as Aromatherapeutic Substances, Ayurvedic Medicines, Energy Substances or Medicines, Homeopathic Remedies, Nutritional Substances in Pharmaceutical Form, Traditional Chinese Medicines, Traditional Dutch Remedies, Unani Tibb Medicines, Western Herbal Medicines, and such other medicines or remedies as may be approved by the authority.”

Previously, the MCAZ was granting exemption from registration for products that did not make any form of medicinal claim on the labelling or package insert.

Following the passing of the legislation known as the Medicines and Allied Substances Control (complementary medicines) Regulations, 2015 the MCAZ is now mandated to assess all complementary medicines destined for public use in Zimbabwe. Daily News