Nigerian counterfeit drug seizure

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Drugs Authentication

A 20ft container of counterfeit pharmaceuticals has been impounded
by the Nigerian National Agency for Food and Drug Administration
and Control (NAFDAC).

The drugs seized include counterfeit versions of Septrin (co-trimoxazole), Glucophage (Metformin), Augmentin (co-amoxiclav), Ampiclox (ampicillin), oxytocin injections, Aldomet (methyldopa) and Encephabol (pyritinol hydrochloride). At present the value of the seizure is unclear but NAFDAC is regarding the case as significant and presenting it as evidence for the necessity of increased vigilance. Dioka Ejionueme, director of ports inspection for pharmaceuticals, said: "If these poisonous products had not been impounded by NAFDAC's dramatic interception, they would have definitely gone into the system to be consumed by innocent Nigerians with the serious health consequences​. "This incident is further clear evidence of the necessity for NAFDAC to be at the nation's entry points - the sea ports, air points and land borders​." The case highlights the difficulties faced by NAFDAC and other anti-counterfeiting bodies around the world as they attempt to monitor the flow of goods across their borders. Ejionueme said: "Forged signatures as well as forged first and second stamps were discovered to have been used in the fraudulent transaction​." NAFDAC, with the cooperation of the Nigerian Customs Service, is now investigating activities at the port. Since 2001 NAFDAC claims to have gone on the offensive to combat counterfeit drugs, over which time it is said to have shut down the operations of hundreds of domestic importers of fake pharmaceutical products. Despite this Interpol reported that in a 2003 survey 80 per cent of the drugs distributed in major pharmacies in the capital city of Lagos were counterfeit. NAFDAC's own website also cites 80 per cent, stating that it the level has risen from 54 per cent in 1990. NAFDAC acknowledges that the political and socio-economic situation across Africa has hindered efforts by anti-counterfeiting bodies in the past but is determined to eradicate fake drugs from Nigeria. However, the organisations effort to curb the flow of counterfeit pharmaceuticals has not been met with universal approval. The gravity of the situation the body faces was brought into sharp focus following unsuccessful attempt on the life of its leader, Professor Dora Akunyili, in December 2003.

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