Tayo Olaleye in Abuja
The Acting Director General of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Dr. Bakut Tswah has emphasised the need to sustain the fight against the spread of fake drugs.
Tswah made the call at the launch of a new study titled “The rise of counterfeit pharmaceuticals in Africa”.
He said the action will save lives and improve public health by ensuring availability of only standard and efficacious medicines in the public domain, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] of the United Nations, which seeks good and safe health for all.
The DG referred to former Minister of Information, the late Prof Dora Akunyili, who lost her diabetic sister to fake insulin (Cheng 2009; Lenonick 2005), as one out of thousands, adding that the disabled and deformed on the streets everyday are, perhaps, victims of the administration of counterfeit drugs.
He said that the unfortunate menace is taking a heavy toll on African societies, frustrating genuine efforts of national reconstruction and general advancement.
He further stressed that the emergence and growth of illicit economy on which the sales of fake and counterfeit consumables thrive, requires urgent and aggressive joint actions of relevant authorities at domestic and regional levels.
Speaking at the same event, the head European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Stephanie Marrone said, with the estimated annual remarks ranging from $1.6 to $2.2 trillion worldwide, the network of counterfeit medicine is a major source of corruption and enormous loss of revenue for the state.
He added that between $200 and $400 billion is believed to be accrued from the illicit market.
In Africa, she said, the vast majority are falsification of medications aimed to cure diseases, which result to the figure of deaths due to fake medicines for malaria and tuberculosis being 700,000 per year worldwide.
“Indeed, while in 45 per cent of cases, falsified medicines contain a sub dose of active substance, in 33 per cent of cases, there is no active substance at all and in 22 percent there is a wrong one, sometimes containing toxic agents.
“On top of being inefficient and inducing resistance to genuine treatments, it leaves users uncured or directly kill them.”
The Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, represented by Olubukola Ajayi said government policies have been developed in sanitising the drug market which includes the National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG) expected to take off in January 2019.
Others are the Nigeria Supply Chain Policy and guidelines for pharmaceuticals and other Health Care Products, Drug Donation Guidelines and the National Drug Policy.