Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has destroyed substandard and falsified medical products worth more than N3.226 billion in the past two years.
This was disclosed yesterday by the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, who stated that the agency, in conjunction with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has commenced the destruction of seized consignments of substandard and falsified medical products, especially Tramadol.
She noted that a total of twenty-four containers of the products have been destroyed.
Adeyeye made these revelations at a press briefing in Abuja to mark her two years in the office. She also condemned the light sentences handed to peddlers of Tramadol and counterfeited drugs in the country and called on the judiciary to review the penalty to reflect stiffer sentence.
“It breaks my heart that a sentence of five years imprisonment or N250,000 fine is given to someone that is trafficking Tramadol that is killing our youths, destroying homes and casting shadow in the future of Nigeria. I am pleading to the judiciary to look at the consequences of narcotic on our homes and review the sentencing,” Adeyeye said.
She said: “The Agency raided two warehouses located within in a residential area in Igbo Amaeze Street, Awada Obosi, Onitsha, Anambra State, where substandard and falsified versions of popular brands of anti-malaria and antibiotics were stored.
“One hundred and nine cartons of assorted products including Lincocin Capsule, Augmentin, Artesunate, Panadol Extra, Cafcol 250mg Capsules, Busoopan, Laridox, Postinor 2 tablets, Coartem 20/120, Lofnac (Diclofenac Sodium) and Aldomet were evacuated.
“Investigation is ongoing to unravel the owners of the products.”
Adeyeye said NAFDAC also intercepted a truck conveying substandard and falsified medical products en-route Kano. The products are worth about N6 million.
She stated that NAFDAC staff were always exposed to violent attacks and offer of huge bribe by producers of counterfeit drugs. The director general also pointed out that a daughter of a staff of the agency was kidnapped by those who were hurt by the agency’s regulatory activities but was later released by her abductors.
The director general, therefore, called on the federal government to come to the aid of the agency with improved funding to save the lives of Nigerians and to also review the salaries of NAFDAC workers because most of them could not afford decent accommodation in Lagos.
The agency, according to her, needed N1.53 billion to by Truscan, a modern hand held device used to detect counterfeited drugs. “NAFDAC literarily funds itself. We get little money from the government. We are funding our activities through the money that companies pay to get their products reviewed or approved. We have little means but we need the support of international partners to buy devices. The Truscan device cost N15.3 million each and we are looking at 100 pieces to be distributed to 36 states,” she said.
Adeyeye said one of the strategic plans of the agency was to reduce the prevalence of substandard and falsified medicines in the country to less than five per cent by 2025, adding that the time is ripe for Nigeria to conduct a new survey on the prevalence of fake drugs.
She noted that NAFDAC has adopted the WHO Alert System for surveillance and monitoring of substandard and falsified medicinal products in a bid to rid Nigeria of “WC products.”