Accepted paper:

Between formal and informal: Pharmaceutical wholesaling in Ghana questioning current modes of regulation


Carine Baxerres (IRD/ Université Paris Descartes/CNE)
Daniel Arhinful (NMIMR, University of Ghana)

Paper short abstract:

Based on ethnographic study of a large pharmaceutical wholesale market in Accra, Ghana, we analyse the links between state and market regulation and the influence of transnational actors and how they shape formal and informal practices of the market, its products and its actors.

Paper long abstract:

Pharmaceuticals provide an ideal window into studying contemporary societies and understanding how and why they change. We present data from two years ethnographic study of the pharmaceutical wholesale market at Okaishie "drug lane" in Accra, which hosts a large number of companies involved in the pharmaceutical wholesaling in Ghana. We question the current links between state regulation and market regulation, between formal and informal practices, while taking into account the influence of transnational actors. We examine sales practices in this market against the background of current national regulation by highlighting informal practices on both pharmaceuticals and actors. Some of them will be analysed as inherent to the way the business is thought in Ghana by key players including authorities. The various dynamics generated by the opening of the market to numerous pharmaceutical firms (mainly from "emergent" countries of Asia, like India and China, and from Western countries), to numerous importers who are also involved in marketing and their competitive financial pitch and the quality of supplied pharmaceuticals, seem to generate logically informal practices. The consideration of global health program proposed by transnational actors will enrich the analysis. Finally, we will highlight the contradiction of focusing regulation on products and quality, whereas minimizing actors.

panel P202
Taking rules seriously: Between formality and informality in African bureaucracies