To reduce the circulation of fake and substandard drugs in the country, the Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug, Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Professor Moji Adeyeye, has stressed the need for more local manufacturing pharmaceutical companies.
The NAFDAC boss made the call at a recent press conference organised by the agency to refute a report which stated that 70 percent of drugs in Nigeria were fake
Adeyeye, who described the dearth of local pharmaceutical companies in the country as a big challenge, highlighted the benefits of locally manufactured drugs to the nation a citizens to include, drug safety, enjoyment opportunities, enhanced Gross Domestic Product, as well as accessibility to medicines.
She said: “If we do not have local manufacturers of drugs in the country, then we all are in trouble. Although there are rumours that 70 percent of drugs in Nigeria are fake, which is a blanket and untrue statement, I am for local manufacturing. NAFDAC is supporting our local manufacturers, so that we can depend less on importation and have our own local manufacturing companies.
“For drug security, we need local manufacturers. Many Africans died when HIV/AIDS newly came because there was lack of drugs. It also helps with unemployment, as Africa is the largest market base in the world and if we don’t have our own local manufacturing companies, we won’t be able to sell to other countries. Other countries will be bringing everything to us and the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry will be weak.”
Reacting to the report that 70 percent of drugs in Nigeria were fake, Adeyeye described the source of the news as irresponsible, saying the latest survey conducted in the country showed 17 percent fake drugs, not 70 percent, but the mischievous source, had indicated 70 percent.
“It is irresponsible for someone who isn’t qualified and doesn’t have a data to be saying that the drugs in circulation in Nigeria are 70 per cent fake. The latest study that we have indicates 17 per cent and 7 per cent of the drugs in Nigeria are substandard, but we are now going to do newer studies. While essential medicines like anti-malarial used to be like 13 per cent or 14 per cent and then we have all sorts of devices to ensure that our local products are produced.
“Whatever has been said is fake news and is irresponsible and unfortunate. We want to do local manufacturing, we want to improve our children’s lives and all of a sudden we heard 70 per cent fake drugs from somebody that has nothing to do with NAFDAC. NAFDAC’S staff were not present at this meeting. They used our logo falsely to invite people to this meeting so that they can put all the wrongs together.
“NAFDAC is doing all the best that can be done in terms of protecting and safeguarding the health of our people and our people are not abstract. Where that news came from, it should go back there, because it is fake and untrue and is not needed in this country”, she asserted.
Explaining the source of the agency’s data, she said the survey was conducted in 2012 by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) in conjunction with NAFDAC, through the use of a handheld device, called TruScan, which can easily detect whether a drug is fake or not and backs it up with remarks.
Prof. Adeyeye further disclosed the activities of the agency in curbing the circulation of fake drugs in the country, saying NAFDAC is presently working on a partnership with international agencies to conduct a new survey on fake drugs in the country, which will commence later in the year.
She further mentioned that the agency will need about 80 TruScan, as one goes for $150,000, and the agency is in possession of only two of the device presently.
“We will start before the end of this year because we cannot just start with one instrument; we need about 80 TruScan to begin. Even if we have to do a small scale study and then scale it up later, if we do not have enough instruments, it may not pan out well”, she stated.