Two officials suspended over release of fake condoms

Friday November 29 2019

Testing quality. A lab technician conducts tests of different condom brands at the National Drug Authority laboratory in Kampala last week. PHOTO BY NOBERT ATUKUNDA

Two officials of Marie Stopes International Uganda have been suspended over the release of the substandard Life Guard condoms to the market.

The State Minister of Health for General Duties, Ms Sarah Opendi, said a pharmacist and a director working at the reproductive health organisation were suspended last week.

The pharmacist was suspended for allegedly claiming that National Drug Authority (NDA) had cleared the use of the condoms while the director was pushed for failure to supervise the pharmacist.

“The executive director suspended them having found that the pharmacist gave them false information that the condoms have been cleared. The pharmacist is the head of that division before the store releases anything and it must be him to liaise with NDA to ensure they are cleared before they are released,” Ms Opendi said yesterday.
Ms Opendi explained that before NDA could communicate whether the said condoms could be on the market, the pharmacists communicated that NDA had cleared the condoms.

“NDA had not yet written to Marie Stopes to clear those specific batches of condoms and in the meantime, they had told them to keep them until verification is done, but the pharmacist in the process wrote a communication that NDA had cleared the condoms. Based on the communication, the stores had to release the condoms,” Ms Opendi said.
However, the minister revealed that investigations are still ongoing. Marie Stopes declined commenting on the matter.

Mr Fredrick Sssekyana, the public relations officer at NDA, said they are not aware of the minister’s communication. Ms Opendi said so far 81 per cent of the one million Life Guard condoms had been recalled as of Wednesday this week.



Last month, NDA recalled Life Guard Condoms of batches 19040205 and 19050105 manufactured in April and May 2019 with expiry dates for March and April 2024 on grounds that they do not meet market standards.
The affected condoms were manufactured by India-based MHL Healthcare in April 2019 and have an expiry date of April 2024, the government regulator said.
This was after routine post-market surveillance discovered that the condoms were distributed despite failure to comply with the parameters.
“We had batches failing tests. Both batches failed the first test. They could not attain the required volume and pressure before they could burst, then one of the batches 19050105 was also found not to be free from holes,” Mr Wilberforce Kwiringira, the acting director of laboratory services at NDA, said.