Pharmacy and Medicines Regulatory Authority (PMRA) has met Media Council of Malawi (MCM) and Malawi Chapter of Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA – Malawi) on possible collaboration to control advertisement of traditional and complementary medicines (TCM) by local media houses.
The Authority is also expected to engage Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) in the coming days in what PMRA Director General Mphatso Kawaye says is a series of stakeholder engagements aimed at ensuring that media houses are complying with legal requirements for advertisement and promotion of herbal medicines.
PMRA is mandated under the PMRA Act No. 9 of 2019 to regulate advertising of medicines and allied substances.
Section 68 (2) of the Act states that “Advertisement of any medicine or allied substance shall require prior screening and approval by the Authority.”
Traditional medicines and food supplements with medicinal value fall under allied substances.
Kawaye said despite publishing guidelines on herbal medicines adverting in the local papers and issuing communications to individual media houses on the same, the Authority still faces non-compliance by media houses.
“We have an option of invoking the law to prosecute non-compliant media houses, however, we thought it wise to first engage these media regulatory bodies for their help in engaging their members on their role in controlling allied substance adverts.
“It is the general public that continues to be deceived by unauthorized advertisements and promotions of TCM products, hence the need to act now than later,” said Kawaye.
MCM Chairperson Wisdom Chimgwede and MISA Malawi National Director Aubrey Chikungwa have both commended PMRA for taking the route of engagement on the matter saying there is need for more awareness, on the provisions of the PMRA Act, targeting media owners, editors and heads of marketing.
The Authority, through Ministry of Health, is in the process of developing applicable regulations to guide implementation of registration of TCM products and associated businesses as provided for in the Act.
PMRA is a statutory organization established by Act of Parliament No. 9 of 2019 to regulate medicines, allied substances and the practice of pharmaceutical profession in Malawi.