Innovarx Global Health says the Medicine Control Agency raid on its premises is ‘arbitrary’

Officials of MCA closing the pharmaceutical company Friday evening.

Following their unannounced raid and seizure of medical stocks of Innovarx Global Health and forcing the Kanifing-based pharmaceutical company to cease operations pending an investigation into the closure, the company has described the actions of the medicine regulatory body, MCA, as ‘arbitrary.’

In a statement released early Saturday, Innovarx Global Health expressed disappointment with how the Medicine Control Agency conducted the unannounced visit to its premises.

“On February 1st, the Medicines Control Agency (MCA) conducted an unannounced inspection of Innovarx Global Health’s Kanifing premises. Without advanced written notice, regulators seized the entire stock of medications over alleged noncompliance with recently altered procedural paperwork protocols.

Just one day later on February 2nd, MCA officials returned without warning to forcibly demand the facility cease all healthcare operations outright. This closure order was based on arbitrary and exorbitant administrative penalty fees targeting healthcare imports, now imposed retroactively. As per obscure new requirements, each U.S.-sourced medicine warrants recurring annual fees totaling over $10,000 for Innovarx’s 400+ medicines inventory maintained solely to serve patients. Such paralyzing surprise interventions disrupting vital healthcare access occurred only at Innovarx, pointing to disproportionate, targeted censure of a single company.”

“As an entrepreneur seeking to expand healthcare access, I constantly grapple with barriers inhibiting progress for startups improving affordability and quality. Recently, my company faced severe, likely malicious regulatory actions aiming to choke operations using minor technicalities. These unjust tactics reveal, unfortunately, common schemes leveraging compliance to smother emerging competitors,” Dr. Ismail Badjie, the company’s founder and CEO, said.

Some of the medical stocks seized from IGH.

“In far too many nations, entrenched cronies abuse power to block new entrants who threaten old boys’ clubs in healthcare. Through the weaponization of bureaucracy and selective rule enforcement, they derail more efficient models benefiting underserved communities. Extorting ambiguous paperwork requirements or exaggerated fees to price out challengers has thwarted pioneers for decades.

Dr. Ismail Badjie, the company’s founder and CEO

Innovation cannot thrive when playing fields tilt sharply. As we rebuild following years of stagnation, The #Gambia must shed decaying business practices that serve the connected few at the expense of mass welfare. All sectors need unified standards applied evenly, not weaponized against threatening competition. Healthcare especially requires room for experimentation improving affordability and access.”

“Systems granting regulators unrestrained influence over commercial rivals they potentially profit from undermine economic development and consumer rights. Globally, forward-looking governments institute checks balancing oversight agencies from commercial conflicts of interest. The Gambia should follow suit before progress suffers.

Rogue behavior exploiting governance gaps for anti-competitive sabotage may seem expedient for some incumbents but severely dampens entrepreneurial risk-taking essential for growth. I hope exposing these realities sparks dialogue on increasing transparency and accountability to foster environments where starters and big players operate on merit, not might. The future of innovation depends on leveling the playing field,” the company said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, MCA has yet to reply to our request for comments on the closure.

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