The Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, has announced the agency’s readiness to eliminate substandard and falsified medicines in the country through partnership with pre-shipment agents in China and India.
In a statement issued yesterday, Adeyeye said the move is part of the agency’s efforts to take the war against importation of illicit drugs to the source countries.
Adeyeye said: ‘’Safeguarding the health of Nigeria means making sure that all regulated products that NAFDAC is in charge of have the expected quality. This means ensuring robust control of the manufacture, the distribution, the advertisement, the sale and the use of these products using international standards, in line with our mandate.
Speaking on ‘’NAFDAC And Your Health,’’ in Abuja, against the background of Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary, Adeyeye noted that 70 per cent of the medicines used in Nigeria are imported while only 30 per cent are produced locally, stressing that attention must be paid to both imported and locally made drugs by the agency.
She said imported drugs used in Nigeria are mostly from China and India, noting that ‘’NAFDAC is now going to the source to ensure that we do pre-shipment analysis.’’
She noted that although pre-shipment analysis had always been there even before she came on board as the DG of NAFDAC, there were loopholes in that process that are now blocked.
She stated that she travelled to China and India with a few staff last year to meet the agents that were given the responsibility many years back, adding that the riot act was read to them and they now understood that they are responsible for making sure that the products samples and analysed by them in their home countries are of quality.
The laboratories were approved based on the analysis they do on the products that are shipped to Nigeria.
The NAFDAC boss, however, said loopholes were found in the process, saying NAFDAC had to withdraw the approval granted to one of the Clean Report Inspection Agents (CRIA) and several laboratories.
She further stated that in the past, the laboratories used to be under the control of the agents, adding that her team visited about 19 laboratories across China and India.
“And we gave them the criteria that they must meet before we choose them as laboratories that can be analysing products that will come to Nigeria,’’ she said.
Adeyeye stated that both NAFDAC and the agents are now on the same page, adding that the CRIAs now work closely with the laboratories, insisting that they have to ensure that the laboratories have the equipment and wherewithal to do the analysis.
She explained that NAFDAC now receives CRIA agents’ reports almost daily on consignments that are suspect, saving the country the huge impact of being turned into a dumping ground for counterfeit medicines.
Adeyeye noted that this stringency has started yielding dividends as NAFDAC now has encouraging reports from the CRIA Agents, and NAFDAC now deals directly with the laboratories used in China and India by the pre-shipment agents.
‘’We are starting from the source to ensure that the medical products or drugs that come into Nigeria are of quality,” she said.
Adeyeye said even now, few unscrupulous merchants of death would sometimes get their shipment without the approval of the CRIA agents by doctoring CRIA approval.
She, however, sent a strong warning to such unscrupulous elements that they would meet their waterloo at the ports here in Nigeria where NAFDAC’s Port Inspection directorate officials are working round the clock to intercept illicit consignments.
‘’We wait for them at the port. Many times, we intercept them because the CRIA agents would have told us about those companies that ought to have gone through them for inspection but did not go,’’ she said.
According to Adeyeye, a staff of NAFDAC has developed a software that helps the agency to track and monitor ships on the high sea. She said this has assisted the agency in apprehending defaulting importers of falsified medicines at the point of entry in Nigeria.
‘’The point is that we are tackling the issue of substandard, falsified medicines from the source. These are the ones coming from China or India,’’ she said.
A major achievement of her leadership, following her relentless efforts, she said, was the return of the Agency back to the Ports in May 2018, coupled with rigorous inspection and enforcement activities.
She disclosed that because of this, the agency has, in collaboration with Nigerian Customs Service, seized and destroyed unwholesome foods and other regulated products worth over N4billion in exercises across the nation. She also stated that Tramadol with estimated street value of N1. 7 trillion has also been seized.