Medical experts and pharmacists in Nigeria say the importation of substandard and fake drugs by unscrupulous elements is wreaking serious havoc in the country.
Stakeholders in the health sector spoken to by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) across the South-Western states of Oyo, Ondo, Osun, Ogun and Kwara on Thursday, agreed that the menace was having its toll on the health of the nation and her citizens.
They called on the Federal Government to take bold and concrete steps to sanitise the sector by ensuring that fake and substandard drugs and chemicals no longer find their way into the country.
Mr Eniola Akindeko, Chairman Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Ondo State chapter, urged government agencies to be proactive and ensure that only genuine pharmaceutical companies were issued licences to import drugs into the country.
Akindeko also said that it had become imperative for consumers to join hands with concerned government agencies to curb the rate at which fake drugs were being imported into the country by patronising only licenced pharmaceutical stores.
Mr Roland Tomiwa, Chairman of the Community Pharmacist, Kwara chapter, who was interviewed by NAN in Ilorin, advised the various regulatory agencies on effective monitoring of drugs that were being imported into the country.
According to Tomiwa, fake and substandard drugs and chemicals will never cease from coming into Nigeria until concerned government agencies are alive to their responsibilities.
Another pharmacist, Mr Rilwan Olaniyi, said the regulatory bodies in charge of maintaining standard pharmaceutical products in the country are to be blamed for the prevalence of fake and counterfeit drugs and chemicals.
According to him, some of the regulatory bodies are paid to get fake products certified.
The Coordinator of NAFDAC in Osun, Mr Anikoh Ibrahim, said that the agency would continue to work toward achieving its mission of safeguarding public health.
Ibrahim said this would be done by ensuring that only quality drugs, food and other regulated products were manufactured, imported, distributed, advertised, sold and used in the country.
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According to him, NAFDAC is committed to ensuring that processed foods, drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, chemicals and biological vaccines are thoroughly scrutinised to ensure consistent quality for Nigerians.
Another pharmacist, Mrs Kehinde Olawale, also stressed the need for regulatory agencies to intensify efforts at clamping down on fake pharmaceutical companies bringing fake and counterfeit drugs into the country.
Similarly, Mr Kayode Atere, an officer of the Pharmacist Council of Nigeria (PCN) in Osun, said checkmating importation of fake or substandard drugs should be the duty of the government agencies manning the nation’s borders.
The medical experts, who spoke with NAN in Ogun, raised alarm over what they called the influx and prevalence of fake and substandard drugs in the country and its negative implications on the health of citizens.
They unanimously called for concerted efforts at checking the menace.
Dr Godwin Okon, a Public Health Physician, told NAN that the use of fake drugs was responsible for the growing cases of hypertension, heart failure, stroke, hearing defects, loss of sight and other illnesses in the country.
Okon noted that the nation had continued to lose thousands of its citizens annually due to the increasing use of fake drugs.
He called on NAFDAC and other relevant agencies to redouble their efforts by ensuring that imported drugs were carefully monitored at both pre-shipment and destination levels.
Dr Adekunle Ashimi, Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Ogun chapter, on his own, urged NAFDAC to strengthen collaborations with relevant agencies, such as Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and others in stemming the tide.
He stressed the need for the availability of experts and equipment at the nation’s borders to help discover fake and substandard drugs.
other experts in other cities interviewed by the news agency spoke in the same vein.
credit: PM News