Health experts are reporting rising incidence of adverse and injurious drug reactions among teenagers (girls) who abuse contraceptives in a bid to prevent pregnancy.
Prolonged use of abortion and emergency contraceptive pills, among other factors, poses a health risk to persons seeking self-prescribed family planning methods.
Advocates want the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to get tough on pharmaceutical manufacturers and marketers for failing to monitor and report the risks associated with the pills they sell.
Pharmaceutical companies and marketing authorisation holders are required under the Public Health Act, Act 851 of 2012, to safely monitor and report adverse reactions of products to the Food and Drugs Authority.
The FDA will then analyse the effects and take regulatory action.
Many pharmaceutical companies, however, continue to flout the law at the expense of users.
Only DKT International has been undertaking pharmacovigilance, that is, the practice of monitoring the effects of medical drugs after they have been licensed for use, especially in order to identify and evaluate previously unreported adverse reactions.
Medical experts identify unstable menstrual cycles, headache, mild increase in blood pressure as adverse effects of short and long-term contraceptive use among teenage mothers.
Dispensary technician, Joyce Kyeremateng Abebrese, runs a pharmaceutical shop.
She sees, on weekly basis, teenage women who suffer side effects of contraceptives.
“[For] most of the girls, when they take the emergency contraceptive, it is a problem. The young girls take it every week which is not good. So they need to be educated.
“One month they will take it three times. They have serious issues with their periods. That’s what they normally come to me for education on what to do. They haven’t received any education and they refuse to read the leaflet,” she said.
She explained further: “At times somebody will take it 72-hours. Three days time she wants to repeat because she doesn’t know that it will work for the whole month because she had another affair so she wants to take the Lydia (contraceptive) again,” she lamented.
For her, the only way out is to compel pharmaceutical manufacturers or market authorisation holders to monitor and report back to FDA.
Adamu Abdulai is Senior Manager in charge of Regulatory Affairs at health care organisation at DKT International. He says pharmaceutical companies have reneged on their duty to implement provisions of Act 851 for fear of losing their customers.
“DKT is a pioneer in terms of training the clients on adverse effect. They [pharmaceutical companies] are afraid. They thought when they tell the people or their clients about the adverse effects, they will not buy the medicine. No that’s not it.”
In the midst of the fear, DKT International is promoting safe abortion and family planning for improved maternal survival.
The organisation is in Kumasi to train distributors in Ashanti Region in how to report adverse drug reaction.
Country Director, Mario Alvarez says pharmacovigilance is good for public safety.
“The most important thing is its good for public safety. DKT is an organisation that focuses on health and we believe that ADR [adverse drug reaction reporting] is very important for the public so we invest so much in into training because it’s an effort together with all of our clients in order to capture those events,” Alvarez urged.