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New Vision
Uganda: NDA Busts Sale of Fake ARVs
Taddeo Bwambale
January 17, 2012
New Vision (Kampala) - January 17, 2012

A quiet room on the 2nd floor of Suize Plaza in Kabalagala, a few metres from the American Embassy in Kampala, would pass for an ordinary office.

But tucked behind the flashy work stations in the office, two young girls are quietly selling Virol ZAPPER, a drug purported to be a cure for HIV.

The drug is sold in small doses of 37ml and each costs sh500,000. Patients are required to take ten drops of the drug three times a day, while children are advised to take five drops.

The drug purported to be manufactured in the United States has been widely advertised on several radio and TV stations as a 'miracle drug' against one of the world's deadliest viruses.

Discreet sale The fake drug is distributed by Tropa Group, a shadow company which the National Drug Authority (NDA) says it has not licensed to sell drugs. The proprietor of the company only identified as Abigaba Simon, is on the run.

A team from the NDA and Kabalagala Police Station raided the office at noon on Tuesday and arrested Brenda Nabatanzi and Maureen Birungi, who claim to be sales representatives of the company.

NDA's inspector of drugs, Dr Noel Mategyero said the drug did not conform to the standards set for the production and sale of restricted drugs.

"The drug is not registered by NDA and it is not known to us. Even the therapeutic claim to cure HIV is in dispute," he said. He disclosed that NDA would take samples to its lab for testing, and warned the public against using it.

The law Wycliffe Arinaitwe, NDA's law enforcement officer who tracked the sale of the fake drug said they were tracking the owner to face charges, in accordance with the National Drug Policy and Authority Act, 1993.

The act states that only a person registered or enrolled under the Nurses and Midwives Act or any other authorised person may supply or dispense restricted drugs in accordance with regulations made by the Minister.

The law also prohibits the supply of restricted drugs from any premises unless either a general or a limited certificate is issued by NDA. The premises are supposed to be checked to ensure that the facilities, equipment and other physical attributes are suitable for the supply of the drugs.

The officer in charge of Kabalagala Police Station, Patrick Baluku said the Police had started investigations into the matter, and added that numerous illegal drugs were being sold in the area.

"We have received several reports about people selling fake drugs. People should know the right places where to buy genuine drugs," he cautioned.