STREET vendors have become pharmacists, selling illegal pharmaceuticals that are being imported from neighbouring countries, Zim Morning Post can report.
The drugs are being smuggled through the borders and airports from Zambia, South Africa, China and Tanzania.
In the past, aphrodisiacs, popularly known as blue diamond and silver bullets and meant for sex enhancement, probably constituted the only drugs found on the black market.
Speaking to this publication, Tatenda Kazuru – a pharmacist – said popular pharmaceuticals on the streets of Zimbabwe were antibiotics and painkillers, while Nifedipine for high blood pressure is also becoming popular on the streets.
“We have seen drugs like Brufen, antibiotics and pain killers on the streets and this is likely to create a lot of problems in the future,” Kazuru said.
Kazuru added that these drugs were dangerous because they were not passing through the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) for verification, apart from not being stored properly.
Despite being approved in countries such as Zambia or China, the drugs remain illegal in Zimbabwe as long as they are not approved by the MCAZ.
Drugs are stored in different temperatures, with some requiring room or cold conditions while others can adapt to any temperatures.
Illegal pharmaceutical vendors,though, do not take requisite precautions, in the end causing the drugs to turn poisonous.
According to Kazuru, drugs are registered with MCAZ after two years of rigorous testing.
“Once a drug is registered, it will be classified as follows: Prescription Drugs (PD), Dangerous Drugs (DD) Pharmacist Initiated (PI) or Over the Counter (OTC). But most of the drugs on the streets are not going through those procedures,” Kazuru said.
Street-pedalled drugs have become more dangerous as patients were getting wrong drugs and dosages from vendors, which ultimately causes severe side effects on nthe users.
Some of the drugs that are being sold illegally on streets in Zimbabwe include Cipro (Ciprofloxacin), Cortrosyn (Cosyntropin) and Ibuprofen Diclofenac.
Vulnerable patients are opting for black market drugs as they are considered cheaper and easily accessible.
“We sell these drugs to people with sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhoea, syphilis and herpes because they can’t afford the pharmacies and hospitals,” said one vendor.
Zim Morning Post also understands that many civil servants have become major suppliers of the illegal pharmaceutical drugs.
One vendor said she got most of her drugs from nurses and soldiers who she pays in United States dollars.
She also said she exports birth control pills to South Africa where there is a high demand of the product from the more than two million Zimbabweans who live there.
“I always buy these pills from the pharmacies at US$1 per packet and sell them in South Africa at ZAR50 each, but I am failing to meet the high demand,” she said.