The Director-General of the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye has threatened to deal with pharmacists caught importing fake and substandard drugs.
Adeyeye stated that while the drug situation in the country is better now compared to 2009 when Nigeria was regarded as a haven for fake drugs, all stakeholders should remain committed to the fight against fake drugs.
Speaking to pharmacists at a virtual conference organised by the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lagos, Idi Araba, the NAFDAC DG, however, noted that the country has a big problem in terms of drugs procurement and administration.
“As pharmacy professionals, we shouldn’t allow traders to go to China or India to import some illicit and substandard drugs for our superintendent pharmacists to help them market,” she said.
She noted that that the agency has written the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria on it and warned that any pharmacist caught supplying substandard drugs would be held liable.
According to her, the use of Tramadol by the nation’s youths was a common feature when she took over the rein of leadership at NAFDAC.
“When I took over, I was practically running after Tramadol peddlers. Our enforcement team went after companies manufacturing illegally or importing them.
“Tramadol was raining down on Nigeria. At some points, our youths started exhibiting mental health challenges resulting from the use of such drugs and other narcotics,” she said.
Adeyeye explained that the need to inform PCN stemmed from the fact that the Council has the responsibility to register pharmacy premises and issue a licence to superintendent pharmacists.
She maintained that the agency also has to carry out frequent pre-production inspection to ensure that such premises measure up to what they have in their certificate.
She stressed that the quality of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient deployed in the manufacturing of drugs by companies must be of good quality at all times.
“A pharmaceutical product is as good as the API used in producing it. We now have a stringent approach to the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients and the drugs imported into this country.
“This is where the life-long lesson comes in. That is also why NAFDAC is going digital on all fronts – port inspection, enforcement and other areas. The basic professional training of pharmacists, which is under the purview of PCN, is important. And I believe in experiential learning,” she said.
The NAFDAC boss also identified knowledge of science and capacity building as two important elements that can contribute to the growth of any nation.
She, therefore, called on the federal government, philanthropists and corporate organisations to back science by investing in vaccine productions in the country.
“If we don’t make it to level three of the World Health Organisation standard, Nigeria may not get around to producing a COVID-19 vaccine,” she said.
“I must, however, say that I am happy Nigeria is now paying more attention to the neglected health sector and pharmaceutical companies are also being granted access to the CBN intervention fund,” she noted.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise via phone, the Public Relations Officer, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, Peter Illiya denied knowledge of any correspondence regarding pharmacists engaged in unethical practice from NAFDAC.
“I am not aware of any correspondence written to us by NAFDAC on such an issue. And if she did, definitely something is being done about it. But then, it must be noted that every drug imported into the country has NAFDAC number. The question we should ask is, who is registering those drugs?
“Our own is that once PCN license a company to import, that is where our work ends and where NAFDAC’s begins. The agency’s job is to ensure that whatever comes through is of standard quality. That also explains their presence at the port,” he said.
The PCN spokesman explained that the council operates on three Ps namely products, premises and personnel while NAFDAC’s main focus should be on regulating the product.
On whether NAFDAC has the power to punish any erring pharmacist, Illiya reiterated that such measure falls under the prerogative of the council.
“Anybody, not just pharmacist, caught importing substandard drugs will be punished by the council according to the laws of the country. That goes without saying. It is a criminal offence against the nation. This clarification is essential.
“It is also why I think agencies collaboration is important. If NAFDAC feels some pharmacists are involved in such sharp practice, let it bring them to us. And where the PCN also establishes a case of substandard products, all we need do is to confiscate a few samples and report the case to NAFDAC. Then it can take it up from there,” he stated.
According to him, the PCN already has a disciplinary tribunal and an investigative panel in place. To deal with such an issue.
Illiya remarked that the two bodies have the mandate to investigate allegations of unethical and sharp practices.
“If found culpable, the investigative panel will escalate to the disciplinary tribunal which has the status of a high court.
“It is the one to deal with such erring pharmacists who are also entitled to a counsel at the disciplinary tribunal. If they are not satisfied with the verdict of the tribunal, they can go to the Court of Appeal,” he said.
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