The Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Professor Christiana Mojisola Adeyeye has called on the federal government not to put drugs and poisons on Concurrent List, nothing that this will not only cause multiplicity of drug legislation, but will lead to chaotic distribution.
In a statement made available to THISDAY, the DG said following the recommendation by the reform panel of the ruling party led by Governor Nasir el-Rufai that proposes to move drug matters from Exclusive List (item 21 of part I of the second schedule of the 1999 Constitution) to the Concurrent List, NAFDAC as an Agency of Government and a major stakeholder in drug regulation in the country, thought it important to lend its voice to this emerging concern, adding that this recommendation portends great danger for the nation.
She said: “Removal of drugs and poisons from the exclusive legislative list will lead to lack of uniformity of standards of drug products across the country; chaotic drug legislation that will discourage foreign investment and disruption of existing collaboration with international support partners and donor agencies; and as well defeat the purpose of the federal government’s drive on ease of doing business in the country as different jurisdictions will have different requirements.
“This will lead to proliferation of organised crime and money laundering offences, loss of recognition of the country as a preferred destination for clinical research due to haphazard legislative requirements, lowered product quality standards will further worsen Nigeria’s health indices,” she added.
According to her, this will also lead to aggravation of the current menace of misuse and abuse of controlled drugs, infringement on patent and intellectual property rights which will have untoward consequences on the nation being a signatory to the Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, as well as lead to proliferation of counterfeiting, falsification of medicines, spuriously labeled pharmaceuticals and allied products, pronounced adverse drug reactions, entropic Pharmacovigilance reporting system, unwholesome and sharp practices to mention a few, among others.
She said the nation has over the years put in place several policies and measures to ensure drug security and improved healthcare delivery in the country, adding that some of these measures include a National Drug Policy which is targeted amongst other objectives to make available at all times to the Nigerian populace adequate supplies of drugs that are effective, affordable, safe and of good quality.
“The country is also putting a lot of effort to strengthen administrative, legislative, and regulatory controls of the importation, exportation, manufacture, procurement, storage, distribution, supply, advertisement, sale and use of drugs in tandem with global best practice as obtained all over the world.
“The reasons for placing drugs and poisons on the exclusive legislative list by countries are not far-fetched. These include but not limited to the following: Firm control on drugs and drug-related matters by the federal government; prescription and enforcement of grades and minimum standards of quality for drugs and drug products; prevention of drug misuse and abuse by central regulatory control on substances of abuse; and protection of patent rights for innovators of medicines to prevent infringement and promote data exclusivity.”
Other reasons, according to her include: entrenchment of a rational and properly structured drug distribution system; enhancement of compliance with Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement; and strengthening of regulatory mechanisms in line with globalisation and medicines regulatory harmonisation.
Meanwhile, Prof. Adeyeye, speaking at another forum, Breakfast Meeting with NAFDAC DG’ held in Lagos for stakeholders and the media recently, she said since the past 90 days she resumed as the DG, a lot of thins have changed in the Agency.
According to her, NAFDAC staff have been multitasking, as there was no more time to finish one thing at a time before another starts, adding that there were so many things to be done in the Agency.
“For instance, when I came on board, I realised there was no active information technology system. We kick started by making sure all NAFDAC staff uses our emailing system for their email correspondents. All 2300 staff of NAFDAC now uses nafdac.org. We started other ICT innovations to make our work easier.
“When I first came on board, I found it difficult to talk to my directors, but within five weeks, we resolved all that.”
She said one of the things she has made sure of was to address the issue of huge expenditure from staff travels. “Prior to my coming, NAFDAC was known to spend a lot of money on travels, then I asked if we could minimise the travels by doing video conferences. We have also achieved that.”
She added that a lot of money was been spent by Nigerian manufacturers, hence the least BAFDAC can do is to step up such that there would no longer be undue delays in whatever they processes with the regulatory body.
She commended staff of NAFDAC for their tireless efforts since she resumed. “NAFDAC has so many smart people, and I am proud of them,” she added.