The current recession in the country is affecting every sector of the Nigerian economy and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, is making moves to protect local manufacturers of foods, pharmaceuticals and allied products, writes, JOYCE REMI-BABAYEJU
In a bid to keep the Nigerian economy afloat in the face of the present recession, the agency in charge of the fight against fake and counterfeit foods, pharmaceuticals and consumables in the country, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, has promised to turn around the economy by ensuring the safety of Nigerians through consumption of only local drugs, foods and other consumables.
NAFDAC promised to encourage local production of food, drugs, cosmetics and allied products in the country for the good of the people.
Speaking to Nigerian Pilot Saturday on the subject matter, in Abuja, Acting Director General of NAFDAC, Mrs Yetunde Oni, said that the agency regulates and coordinates the major aspects of the non oil sector including the pharmaceutical and food production, cosmetics, packaged water, chemicals, fertilizer, pesticides, medical devices and many others in the country.
Owing to the agency’s mandate of ensuring the safe health of Nigerians, Oni said that it will do everything within its powers to take the bull by its horn, particularly in this recession time in the country when people could take advantage of the situation to import substandard , fake and unwholesome products at the detriment of the citizens, to ensure only regulated locally products are available to the Nigerian people.
She said significantly that the agency is meeting with stakeholders in the sector to notify them of NAFDAC’s plans to mop up and destroy all imported fruit juice in the country beginning from next year in order to give local manufacturing industries the opportunity to grow, provide jobs for millions of Nigerians and improve the economy.
‘’The meeting, apart from trying to domesticate the change agenda of the present administration, is also aimed at feeling the pulse of the stakeholders in the pharmaceutical, food and beverage industry as to how the current recession is affecting them and to also proffer solutions that will grow the economy through the production of qualitative foods and drugs.’’ She stated further
Those at the stakeholders meetings included, pharmacists, fast foods and packaged water producers, the security agencies, Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigeria Immigration Service, Civil Defence Corps and the National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency.
Also the NAFDAC boss explained that the meeting has given the agency the leverage to mop up and set ablaze fake, substandard, adulterated and expired regulated products in all the states in the north central geopolitical zone of the country.
It is also aimed at giving the stakeholders the opportunity to criticize and advice the agency on how to serve the people better and solicit their support in the fight against counterfeit, fake and substandard regulated products.
‘’An estimated billions of naira of packaged water , both in bottle and sachet, which is under NAFDAC watch is consumed in the country every day, most especially on Saturdays because of the high number of ceremonies that take place in the country every weekend.’’
This, therefore, implies that NAFDAC is a key and critical agency in the effort of the federal government to diversify the economy and also has the capacity to contribute immensely in the attainment of the change agenda of the federal government, Oni explained.
At a forum organized in Kuje Area Council of the FCT, Oni, explained that the destruction of the fake, substandard and expired products which is a periodic exercise further gives credence to the fact that NAFDAC is continuously waging war against persons or organisations involved in counterfeiting of regulated products and also discharging her functions in line with her mandate.
She, however, reiterated that NAFDAC will continue to work relentlessly with other stakeholders to ensure that the incidence of counterfeit medicines and other regulated products is curtailed to the barest minimum.
She disclosed that, “in 2014, we carried out destruction of over N120 million naira worth of fake and counterfeit medicines and other regulated products in the FCT and we are happy that this figure is down to N75 million in 2016.
“This is an indicator of NAFDAC’s strengthened enforcement and surveillance systems. We are optimistic that in the near future, we would have little or nothing to destroy as we work towards ensuring availability of good quality, efficacious, safe and affordable medicines and wholesome regulated products to the Nigerian populace.”
The agency has not relented in its efforts at protecting the health of Nigerians, and this it is doing through the use of innovated tools for fight against fake, counterfeit and unwholesome products in the country. Tools like the Cutting Edge technology, Mobile Authentication Service, MSS, Truscan and Black Eye technology are presently being used to decipher fake and genuine drugs in the market.
The Tuscan technology works with mobile phones because it enables consumers check is drugs are fake or original. The technology enables consumers to enter 12 digit numbers and send same to a dedicated number via SMS that would respond yes or no about the authenticity of the product. This means that buyers across the counter can receive instant confirmation regarding their drugs.
The Black Eye technology, which also works like Truscan which NAFDAC recently acquired is an instrument manufactured in Israel – a country which is very good in security instruments.
The Black Eye will compare the tablet that a consumer is trying to check and tell whether it is genuine or fake and if you ask from the machine, it will break it down into its component and tell you what it contains; active pharmaceutical ingredients or it contains so much inactive pharmaceutical ingredients.
NAFDAC said the The Black Eye now makes their work faster. ‘’We can put 100 tablets, or even 1,000 tablets at the same time and it will break them down and tell you which one is good or bad.
‘’We are working with the Israeli manufactures to tailor it to our need and very soon, we hope that they can manufacture something like a conveyor which you just put a carton inside. We don’t have to even remove a tablet and check it. It can also evaluate the packaging itself separately and tell you if the package is from the original company that manufactured it or not, using the packaging material:
So far, counterfeiting of drugs has become an epidemic in Nigeria because an estimated $12 billion is lost in wages and salaries from the country due to fake, counterfeit, and substandard medicines:
NAFDAC is ready to encourage local production of foods and drugs as a safe way to ensure the right of good health to Nigerians and to boost employment, this way the economic recess would soon be a thing of the past’’ she assured.