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Monday, March 16, 2015

NAFDAC’s Unending War Against Drug Counterfeiters

Whenever the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) makes the news, it is almost certainly predictable what the content would be. It is either they have arrested fake drug syndicates or seized various unwholesome products including counterfeit drugs, or they are inspecting the destruction of such counterfeit drugs/products, which are often estimated to worth hundreds of millions of naira.
This is because fake drug producers and importers are unrelenting and are hell bent on feasting on the finance of unsuspecting Nigerians who would often purchase these ‘drugs’ for the purpose of treating themselves and living healthy lives….And then, the agency is continuously in pursuit of these ‘merchants of death’ with the sole aim of bringing them to justice while destroying their seized products.
Available information suggests that since 1985, when the then government in power introduced the import license for all imported goods, including drugs, the country assumed

this dangerous dimension that has snuffed life out of several unsuspecting Nigerians. A development that altered the sanctity of the pharmaceutical industry in the country till date.
“Those who had no business with drugs started getting the license and became importers of products they no nothing about, while the genuine pharmacists and importers were denied access or were ‘forced’ to repurchase the license from these set of people. With the high and connected able to get the license, and knowing that there is a lot of money to be made, especially when importing substandard and counterfeit drugs, these people with licenses took advantage of it and then flooded Nigerian market with varying types of counterfeit and unwholesome products,” said a concerned Nigerian, Pharm. Roland Anyanwu.
It is with the knowledge that the sector is enmeshed in high incidence of fake drugs that the then Director General of NAFDAC, late Prof. Dora Akunyili assumed office and swung into action with the aim of refocusing the pharmaceutical industry and correcting the anomalies that has brought a lot of skepticism to the industry.
Despite the agency’s arrest of several counterfeiters in the past, more people are getting into the act on a regular basis, suggesting that there might be need for a change of strategy by NAFDAC to achieve success with its anti-counterfeiting campaign.
A health correspondent with Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) who was among the media personnel present during the parade of the three counterfeiters, had this to say while chatting with THISDAY correspondent who also attended the press briefing: “It never really struck me the depth at which this country is entangled in the phenomenon called fake, counterfeit, adulterated and unwholesome products until I saw the sadness on the face of Orhii this morning during the press briefing, when he said if he has his way, drug counterfeiters would be shot to death for killing fellow humans with adulterated and fake drugs.”
According to him, “the agency is compiling a bill which it intend presenting to the National assembly, where by counterfeiters would be made to forfeit the wealth made from the illicit trade as well as compensate people who have been affected by the use of their products.
As NAFDAC continue to show zero tolerance to the fight against counterfeiters who are committing mass murder through sales of unwholesome products and drugs, It is still unclear when the country will be totally free from the menace of fake drugs and unwholesome products.


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