The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has said antibiotics and anti-malaria drugs are the most counterfeited in Nigeria. The reason for such is that there are huge demands for the drugs. According to NAFDAC, India and China have remained the leading departure points of fake drugs imported into Nigeria.
Mommodu Segiru, the Director, Ports Inspection Directorate, said “We have found out that anti-malaria and antibiotics are the most counterfeited. We have concentrated on them and we have been able to scan all the anti-malaria drugs and antibiotics that are most frequently counterfeited.
“Fulcin”for instance, is a product that was not supposed to be in the market since 2002 because the manufacturers stopped the production since that year. Because the drug was popular when it was being used, they (counterfeiters) started pushing it into the market. That has been taken care of and a suspect has just been convicted.”
Segiru explained that the NAFDAC had intensified its surveillance and screening at the ports and border areas of the country, adding that the agency had formed security networks with the countries where the fake drugs were imported from.
He said, “What we used to see in recent past, although there is an improvement, is that people used to go to China and India to bring counterfeit products and smuggle them through the airports. We have been able to curtail that.
“Apart from re-engineering our surveillance measures at the ports, we have partnered the Chinese and Indian governments. We have instances where people have been sentenced to death in China or the authorities went to the factories where the fake drugs were made, closed them down, arrested and prosecuted the suspects found.
“The Indian government has begun to give incentives to whistle-blowers. From the countries of origin of these fake drugs, there has been a reasonable interest and action by the governments and that has reasonably reduced the inflow of these (fake) drugs.”
The Public Relations Officer, NAFDAC’s Lagos Office, Christiana Obiazikwor, added that human rights activists had prevented the agency from seeking maximum punishment for producers and distributors of fake drugs.
Obiazikwor said, “The criminals either print false NAFDAC registration number or address on fake drugs or they print wrong labels on the product to conceal the true source of the drugs. Sometimes, a drug from China could be carrying an Indian label.
“Because the fake drugs are made of chemical composition, it becomes difficult for an unsuspecting consumer to identify it. The counterfeiters are so sophisticated in the faking that the original producer of a product may not differentiate between the fake and the original.”
She, however, added that the agency had introduced TRUSCAN, a hand-held device which could scan and detect counterfeit drugs in a warehouse in few minutes, and a drug coding system, where a consumer could send a concealed code on a drug to the agency for verification before consumption.