In Morocco, the Covid-19 rapid orientation tests are not sold in pharmacies as in several countries of the world and as is the rule, but in the black market. The latter, flourished day by day in the absence of any legal marketing channel for this product by the Ministry of Health. This prompted pharmacists to “ challenge »Their guardianship and sell it within their structure. Point.
Remember, last July, the Gigalab company began to market its rapid diagnostic kits to pharmacies. After a grumbling from the Chambre Syndicale des Biologists, the drug and pharmacy department, headed by Bouchra Meddah, withdrew all the batches of this product from pharmacies.
” There was a recall of batches in relation to this product pending the opinion of the technical committee for the response to acute respiratory diseases. All of the Gigalab company’s saliva tests have been withdrawn from pharmacies because they are not authorized. The company has not respected its commitment to the Ministry of Health ”, The manager told us at the time, while Karim Zaher, CEO of Gigalab, underlined in a press statement that the evaluation of his saliva test ” was carried out by the military laboratory ” who has ” issued a reliability report “And that” committee of the Ministry of Health then met to authorize it “.
However, and since the withdrawal of this product from pharmacies, the black market has found a new golden niche. This rapid diagnostic kit was put on sale, in black, on social networks. And demand is increasingly increased with the increase in cases of contamination in the Kingdom, but also the high prices of PCR tests (between 600 and 700 dhs). The producer has confirmed that he only sells it to companies wishing to screen their employees.
CNOP calls on pharmacists to market rapid orientation tests
Faced with this situation and after long discussions on the subject, the National Council of the Order of Pharmacists (CNOP) issued a press release for pharmacists. The CNOP has thus argued that rapid orientation tests, and as is the case in several countries around the world, must be sold in pharmacies as permitted by law. In addition to the fact that the pharmacy remains the competent health space for this mission by giving advice to patients and by directing them in particular towards carrying out a PCR test in case the symptoms confirm the contamination.
In this sense, the CNOP called on pharmacists marketed the rapid orientation tests, apart from that of Gigalab, at reasonable prices which takes into account the purchasing power of the citizen, calling at the same time the pharmaceutical laboratories who import that product, to distribute it to pharmacists only. In addition, the CNOP called on the competent authorities to intervene to end the marketing of this product outside pharmacies.
But where has the Ministry of Health gone?
In the midst of all this mess, and apart from the withdrawal of the Gigalab kit from pharmacies, no reaction to the black sale of the Covid-19 rapid tests was observed from the side of the department of Khalid Ait Taleb, nor even the authorization of the sale of other brands of tests in pharmacies.
Joined on this subject by MoroccoLatestNews. Dr Hamza Guedira, pharmacist and President of the National Council of the Order of Pharmacists, told us that “ the sale of rapid orientation tests has never been prohibited for sale in pharmacies so that the order decides to sell them or not “Noting that there was” confusion about it“.
” The Ministry of Health has withdrawn a batch of covid-19 diagnostic kits from a specific brand (Gigalab), for X reasons. Beside, there are some laboratories that have imported rapid tests, but do not do not market them to community pharmacists. The latter therefore found themselves in a situation where they no longer know if they have the right to sell them or not. », Explains our interlocutor.
Asked what the law says in this regard, Dr Guedira confirms us ” that there is absolutely no law that prohibits the sale of rapid referral tests in pharmacies. As a result, pharmacists can now approach a laboratory, buy the tests, and sell them to the public. “. ” The problem posed today is that these tests are sold anywhere and anyhow », He raises.
” The Ministry of Health must communicate on the subject. I even sent a letter to the minister, offering him to sit around a table with the biologists and a member of the covid scientific commission so that we can take the best decision in favor of the Moroccan citizen. But my request unfortunately found no follow-up to the supervisory authority », Says Dr Guedira.
According to him, ” the rapid test has proven to be effective. When it is positive and accompanied by Covid-19 symptoms, the patient must be put on treatment to be able to save him and keep a place in intensive care“.
Then, there are cities where there are no laboratories carrying out PCR tests, underlines our interlocutor, wondering ” how can its citizens be tested? And even if so, can they afford a 700 dhs PCR test? “.
The president of the CNOP continues that “theThe Ministry of Health surely has a valid reason for not wanting to market it in pharmacies“, But urges him to “Communicate at least on the subject”. “All the same, we are responsible and adult people. The ministry urgently needs to start working a little more deeply with its partners“.
And to add: ” Honestly, there is a real problem. The Ministry of Health must react to this problem and show a certain transparency vis-à-vis Moroccan citizens. The Ministry of Health must set up a legal circuit for the marketing of its tests“.
To conclude, the president of the CNOP claims ” the creation of a ministry of pharmaceutical industry and medicine, since it is a strategic product. We have some progress in this direction compared to several countries, we have a royal strategy of South-South cooperation that we must implement. Suddenly, we need a political spokesperson within the government in addition to the national agency to manage technical issues. He suggests.
It should be remembered that among the 500 existing laboratories in Morocco, only a handful are authorized to do PCR tests, thus making huge profits in addition to the fact that they only accept the cash payment method.
As for the marketing of rapid orientation rapid tests in pharmacies, professionals are faced with the fact that “ suppliers fear selling the tests to pharmacists in the absence of any reaction to this by the supervisory authority, and prefer to sell them on the black market“.
We have tried to contact the Ministry of Health to get their point of view on the issue, unfortunately to no avail.