Zimbabwe bans on-street herbal medicine sales

GOVERNMENT has banned door-to-door and on-street herbal medicine sales and put in place stringent measures to ensure people are not exposed to dangerous products.

Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) spokesperson Mr Richard Rukwata said it was illegal to distribute medicines without authorisation from the authority.

Mr Rukwata said anyone selling complementary medicines should submit an application for authorisation before March 12, 2016.

Section 18 (1) of Statutory Instrument 97 of 2015 on medicines and allied substances control reads: “No person shall sell any complementary medicine unless he or she is authorised to do so by the authority.

“Any person who contravenes subsections (1) and (2) shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level seven or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or both such fine and such imprisonment,” reads the SI.

The SI exempted people who dispense or administer complementary medicines in the practice of their profession at their premises.


“No person shall sell any complementary medicine unless the sale is effected on premises licensed in terms of part V1 of the Act or from premises authorised by the Authority or authorised by a general dealer’s licence issued in terms of the Shop Licences Act (Chapter 14:17),” further reads the SI.

“It is very clear that medicines can only be sold from premises — not from the streets, or from door-to-door,” said Mr Rukwata.

All medicines approved in terms of these regulations are now also required to bear the words, “no approved therapeutic claims” on the label, unless otherwise exempted by the authority from complying with this requirement.

 Every package of a complementary medicine shall contain a leaflet with names of active ingredients in the medicine, quality and strength of the ingredients, strength of the medicine itself where applicable, recommended dosage and side-effects, among other requirements.

Mr Rukwata said selling medicines that are not labelled appropriately was an offence.

Distributors of the medicines are also now banned from advertising their products without written approval from MCAZ.

Any person who contravenes that provision is also liable to prosecution.

MCAZ head of evaluation and registration Dr William Wekwete said according to WHO, about 80 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa use complementary medicines.

He said although there were no studies done yet in Zimbabwe, increased usage of complementary medicines was evident.

“It is therefore essential to ensure that the public have access to complementary medicines that conform to some form of standard,” he said

He said although the notion worldwide is that complementary medicine were natural therefore safe, there was risk of drug interactions, toxicities, contamination and other dangers.

These side effects include allergic reactions, liver failure and interaction with conventional medicines.

Before gazetting of S1 97 of 2015, Dr Wekwete said complementary medicines were governed by SI of 1991 but it was no longer relevant to strictly monitor distribution of the medicines in Zimbabwe, hence the new regulations.

A consultation nutritionist with green world Mr Ngoni Chandiwana said in conformity with the new regulations, they were in the process of coming up with an association of network marketers to assist with monitoring each other.-SFM