Dr Stephen Opuni - FDA Boss

The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) is never bereft of controversy. It hurts to observe a state agency of this stature lose face through avoidable blunders on the part of the Chief Executive Officer.

Doubling as CEO and a political party activist can be risky and face-losing: that is the price the gentleman at the top of the agency is paying for the two hats he is wearing.

Mention the name of the authority and a spectacle of his boys either jumping Rambo-style into the warehouse of a pharmaceutical company he has vowed to deal with, on a drug confiscation mission, or some of his officials setting ablaze medicinal drugs certified unsafe for consumption under suspicious circumstances.

His tenure has been dotted with confrontations with major players in the local pharmaceutical industry. When his relations with the Ministry of Health became frosty, following the intervention of the minister in one of the many instances of controversies the authority was embroiled in, Dr. Opuni?s reaction through his office was anything but respectful.

The President of Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana last Wednesday, in a news story, opened a can of worms about the state of the FDA. It is something which calls for a probe, especially as President John Mahama appears to have launched a war against corruption in the country.

For someone who has tried, since he assumed the office of Chief Executive Officer of the FDA, to create albeit abortively a semblance of sincerity and diligence, the anomalies being attributed to his office, especially as they originate from the President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, call for investigations.

According to the President of the society, James Ohemeng Kyei, the Head of the Pharmaceutical, Industrial Support Department of the FDA while working for the authority, undertakes consultancy for Tobinco Pharmaceutical Company for which he draws GHC2000 monthly, which is an arrangement endorsed by Dr. Stephen Opuni.

Need we not know what triggered the bad blood between Tobinco Pharmaceutical Company and the FDA even after a long-standing harmonious and mutually beneficial relationship?  The revelation by the Pharmaceutical Society?s President has, therefore, triggered more questions about the integrity of the management of the FDA, answers to which are important if public confidence in the authority is to be restored.

The integrity of the leadership of a government authority such as FDA should be without blemish so that their work would not be queried by members of the public whose interests they were set up to protect.

The impression created by the FDA that drug imports by Tobinco, with which they fought a scathing war, were done by road and not by the normal channels is dishonest and unbecoming of a state agency, if we go by the charge of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana.

Is this the quality of the state agency charged with the mandate of regulating the medicinal drugs we consume when the need arises? God save Ghana.


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