Fake drugs: We stopped shipment of 80 drugs from China, India — Adeyeye

By Chioma Obinna

THE National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, said yesterday it stopped more than 80 fake drugs manufactured in China and India shipped into the country by fraudulent importers.

It also disclosed that Nigeria was set to begin the production of vaccines by the end of 2022.

Director-General of the agency, Prof. Christiana Adeyeye, who disclosed this at a briefing in Lagos, equally said the agency had procured 40 units of a handheld device, valued at $57,000 dollars each, to detect the quality and quantity of medicinal products in the country.

Adeyeye explained that as part of efforts to reduce the percentage of fake products being brought into the country, the agency officials toured 19 pharmaceutical companies in China and India, regretting that some of the products shipped into Nigeria were never tested as required by law.

She said NAFDAC had in 2019, read riot act to manufacturing companies in India and China doing business with Nigeria to either align with the country’s listing or quit. She said:  “Earlier in my tenure, we found loopholes that some drugs were not even tested before they are brought here, so in September 2019, we went there and declared a riot act that if they want to trade with us and you bring something bad, you will be in trouble. We had the list and we wrote down the lists of what we expected.

“We went to over 19 laboratories in India and China, the ones that did not satisfy our listing or specifications we removed, one or two that we found fraudulent, we also removed.  “Since March 2020 when the agreement was signed, we have stopped the shipment of over 80 products.  On a few occasions they tried to forge our permit, we caught them because the port inspectorate is now digitalised.”  

That is how we are reducing falsified substandard medicines.’’

Speaking on the production of vaccines in Nigeria, Prof. Adeyeye said the government had been working towards local vaccine production, even before COVID-19 pandemic .

“We are working day and night to ensure that by the end of the year, we will start manufacturing our own vaccines but that does not mean that we will completely develop a vaccine. The government also has a PPP arrangement with bio-vaccines.

“While the government has 49 per cent shares, May & Baker has 51 per cent and it started a long time ago but not just for the COVID-19 vaccine,’’ she said.

She said Nigeria got the green light to begin manufacturing of vaccines, following the agency’s attainment of Level 3 maturation of the World Health Organisations, WHO.

The NAFDAC boss added:  “Again, we are talking about local manufacturing of vaccines because NAFDAC got WHO Level 3 maturation – ML 3 – and without that, we will not be able to manufacture the vaccine.”

She said Nigeria was looking at using a modular lab to start the production, and this she described as Good Manufacturing Practice, GMP,  ready lab.

“It is like a mobile home that is already fitted. We also have human capital. We have people trained in biotechnology, virology, MRI technology and we can find them at the National Veterinary Institute. We have capable Nigerians that have been manufacturing vaccines for years. We have the vaccine ecosystem,’’ she added.

On how the agency was working to bring down the rate of fake drugs in circulation, Adeyeye said NAFDAC did a survey with the WHO on the quality of medicines in Nigeria and found that some local companies in Nigeria were falsifying medicines.

“We shut them down for three months to serve as a deterrent to others. They lost a lot of money in their investment but it is not good for our people. Most of their products were below 100 per cent potency, some were 70-80 per cent, we shut them down.

“In terms of levels, part of the global benchmark is to have a scheme where you can do risk-based post-marketing surveillance, when you have 1,000 products, you cannot just start testing 1,000 products. You will have risk criteria, it may be a sterile dosage form, infusion, injection or it’s a medicine that can break down easily.

“Antimalarial was one of most used and most faked, followed by Oxytocin used to induce labour. The study was done in 11 states, between the North and South. We found that we have about nine to 10 per cent falsification and that is the latest we have now.

“We are trying to expand the research to involve border towns because a lot of activities take place across our borders,” she added. 

Vanguard News Nigeria

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