By Asmau Ahmad with agency report
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has called for the need for enactment of legislation that would ensure stiffer penalties for importers of bad medicine into the country.
The Director-General of the agency, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, made the call while speaking in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.
Adeyeye said that the agency would not spare any company and manufacturers that bring in bad medicine into the country.
She disclosed that the agency had scaled up its Pre-Shipment Testing, adding that more than 100 shipments of bad medicine were stopped.
The DG explained that when you talk of 100 shipments it may be 10 or 100 containers per one, “but we have discovered that some of them don’t have anything.
“Some of them have very little. So, these are things that we have been working on and despite that, they still want to cut corners with us. So, we started blacklisting them. Any company that made bad and substandard medicine, we blacklist them and we published some in national dailies.
“I was in India about six weeks ago and one of them said that his company had been blacklisted and I said so if your company is blacklisted you deserve it. As we speak, we are going to blacklist some other companies.
“We will continue to blacklist companies, and manufacturers and delist the product from our supply chain, delist the product from the database. It is not just medicine coming from other countries it is also medicines within our own region.”
She stated that NAFDAC, with WHO collaboration, conducted a survey and discovered that a few companies were trying to cut corners, adding that the agency shut the lines down for months which was going for billions of Naira for them.
“It has to hurt them in the pocket in order to be a deterrent. Unfortunately, when you go to court, they will find them N250,000 or go to jail for five years. So, I am urging and praying that the time will come when our judiciary will know that medicine kills, bad food kills.
“Right now, as we speak, we have what is called the C34 bill that the House of Representatives repealed the old one and they are actually enacting a new one which essentially contains a stiffer penalty.
“When we see countries that are stringent like the United States that I am familiar with, you break the rule you pay the time. You break the rules if your company is 200 million dollars, they will just fine you 215 million dollars and that is the end of the company.
“So, people’s feet are being put on the fire right from the beginning. I pray we will get to that point in Nigeria where the penalty will be stiffer so that people will think twice before they put medicine that will kill people.”
She vowed that NAFDAC would not spare anybody that intend to kill people with bad medicines, adding that the agency was adopting many strategies and intelligence to tackle the menace.
“A few months ago, someone called me that the medicine that NAFDAC approved is making people run mad. And I said how can the medicine that NAFDAC approved make people mad and I asked for the name.
“Immediately, we did a sweep operation on the company, we got samples from them, later we called Investigation and Enforcement Directorates to go and evacuate after we got the first lab results.
“It is what we call the bitters and they gave it to rats in the lab and the rats die within five minutes. This was not the product we approved. They have laced what they are selling with marijuana. So, people change formulations after we have approved.
“So, part of what we do now is what is called Risk Based Sampling. If we know that your company is a violator your product will be listed as at high risk if it is something that is going to be put in delicate parts like eyes or nose.