In line with its strategy aimed at eradication fake drugs and other spurious regulated products from circulation in Nigeria, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has destroyed counterfeit drugs and vaccines, cosmetics, and expired food items worth over N2 billion.
The destruction exercise took place in Kano and Awka, Anambra state. The operatives of the Agency had combed the nooks and crannies of the three geo-political zones of the federation, namely, North West, South East and South-South to mop up expired drugs and unwholesome food products with a view to safeguarding the health of the Nigerian people.
While counterfeit drugs and spurious food products worth over N1.4billion seized from both the South East and South-South zones were destroyed in Awka, Anambra state on Thursday, similar dangerous drugs, and unwholesome food items worth N613m were destroyed at the Kalebawa dumpsite along Kazaure-Daura road, Dambatta, Kano.
The NAFDAC Director General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, however, warns that henceforth, there is no hiding place for the merchants of death who derive joy in the unpatriotic act of circulating expired and falsified drugs and food products that are inimical to public health across the country.
Prof. Adeyeye said the destruction was part of the efforts to rid Nigerian market of unwholesome products and engender public confidence.
Represented by Barrister Kingsley Ejiofor, the Director of Investigation and Enforcement in the Agency, Prof. Adeyeye said that the fake products were seized by the operatives of the Agency during various operations in the zones, stressing that other operatives of the Agency are all over the country sniffing around to apprehend others who are still in the deadly business.
Prof. Adeyeye listed the products to include substandard, fake, falsely labelled medicines, unwholesome processed food products and cosmetics seized from manufacturers, distributors, and importers.
The DG, in a statement by NAFDAC Resident Media Consultant, Sayo Akintola, on Sunday, March 14, 2021 disclosed that the expired drugs were also handed over voluntarily by complaint companies, Non-Governmental Organisations, Trade Unions, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria PSN and National Association of Proprietary and Patent Medicines Dealers NAPPMED.
She said others were those confiscated by Customs Service but violated, unregistered drugs, improperly stored vaccines, and tramadol, adding that
the list also included Rohypinol intercepted on Benin-Asaba Expressway and other fake medicinal products intercepted at different times.
‘’The estimated value of the products destroyed in Kano is N613,300,290.00 while fake products worth N1, 429,580,683.00 were destroyed in Awka, Anambra State, totalling N2,042,880,973.00’’, she said.
According to her, the products include drugs such as antibiotics, antihypertensive, antimalarial, herbal remedies, psychoactive, controlled substance.
‘’Food products such as spaghetti, vegetable oil, non-alcoholic beverages, sachet water, Chocolates, Noodles, etc. were also destroyed as well as cosmetics such as creams, pomade, and insecticides’’, she added.
According to her, the destruction of the dangerous products would eliminate the risk of their reintroduction into the market, noting that drug counterfeit is an act of economic sabotage and pose serious threat to public health.
“It is a proof of NAFDAC’s resolve to safeguard the health of the people and ensure that only genuine medicines that are wholesome are sold in Nigeria’’, she reiterates.
She further disclosed that a warehouse of banned, controlled, fake and counterfeit products, worth millions of naira, had been discovered in Oyi Local Government of Anambra. The NAFDAC boss said that the items were awaiting destruction, pending the setting aside of a Court Order.
She said apart from seizures and destructions, the agency had been able to secure conviction of culprits, ranging from one year to five years and options of fine.
Prof Adeyeye pointed out that the Agency is adopting proactive approach by engaging political, traditional, and religious leaders in sensitizing their wards on the dangers of drug abuse.
‘’NAFDAC on its part will ensure continuous surveillance on these products and enforce the regulations governing these products in Nigeria’’, she said, warning that Nigerians should be wary of possible infiltration of fake COVID-19 vaccines into the country.
Describing diversion and falsification of medicines and vaccines as one and the same, she warned Nigerians to be vigilant and expose anyone who might want to divert COVID-19 vaccines donated by the international donors for profiteering purposes.
She however, warned Nigerians to refrain from procuring the vaccines online to avoid falling into the wrong hands of merchants of death. ‘’The public must be on the look out for these spurious and counterfeit vaccines and other regulated products’’, she warned.
She solicited the cooperation of the public, corporate bodies, religious leaders, and traditional rulers in the effort of the Agency to eradicate the menace of drug counterfeiting and substance abuse.
The formal setting ablaze of the heap in Kano was jointly performed by the representatives of the DG and the executive governor as well as the commissioner for environment and the commandant NDLEA.
Prof Adeyeye said that the products being destroyed could have had a devastating effect on the populace if not removed from the circulation. She commended the officers of the agency for their untiring efforts in safeguarding the heath of Nigerians and enjoined them not to relent in ensuring that counterfeiters are brought to book.
The NAFDAC boss however, vows that the Agency will ensure that the manufacture, distribution, sale and use of medicines and foods are effectively controlled to ensure that the prescribed standards of identity, safety, quality, and efficacy are met.
The Kano State Commissioner for Environment, Dr Kabiru Ibrahim-Getso, lauded NAFDAC for its campaign to check circulation of fake and substandard products in the state. Ibrahim-Getso pledged continued government support to the Agency to enable it to achieve its mandate.
In the same vein, the Chairman, Medical Section of Ochanja Central Market, Onitsha, Mr Boniface Muonurikpe, described the public destruction of the dangerous products in Awka as a welcome development. Muonurikpe said market associations were willing to work with NAFDAC to ensure that only genuine products were sold to the end-users, stressing that the activities of fakers had robbed Nigerian markets of public confidence.