The NAFDAC has banned 22 firms that it says are involved in the manufacture of fake drugs from ever again selling pharmaceuticals in Nigeria, as part of a countrywide clampdown.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said that the blacklisted companies, which include 15 from India and seven local organisations, will be subject to “strict measures” and prevented from trading in the country.
A complete list of the drug firms involved in the most recent ban is provided on the NAFDAC's website .
A Research and Markets report predicted that the total value of the Nigerian pharmaceutical market would be worth $298m in 2010. While this is small in global terms, it still represents an attractive target for counterfeiters if the survey’s estimation that fakes make up 50 per cent of sales is in any way accurate.
Further evidence of the size of the task facing the NAFDAC is provided by the fact that it claims to have carried out 13,897 raids on premises manufacturing fakes between 2001 and 2002 alone
The latest crackdown, which has received considerable support from local UNICEF representatives, also identified 40 pharmaceutical products on sale in the country that NAFDAC considers are unsafe or of substandard quality.
While the NAFDAC has not responded to in-PharmaTechnologist.com's questions, its director general Dora Akunyili told Nigeria's Punch newspaper that any individual or company found to be in possession of any banned drug would be severely sanctioned as a deterrent to others.
Akunyili added that: “Henceforth, those drugs manufactured by these banned companies would never be allowed to be sold and consumed in Nigeria again and by next week we will begin the mopping up of these drugs and companies.”
Suomi Sakai, UNICEF’s Nigerian representative, praised the “giant strides [the] NAFDAC has made in safeguarding public health through [its] fight against fake drugs and substandard regulated products.”
In May, Nigerian authorities impounded a container of counterfeit drugs that included fake versions of Septrin (cotrimoxazole), Glucophage (metformin), Augmentin (coamoxiclav), Ampiclox (ampicillin), oxytocin injections, Aldomet (methyldopa) and Encephabol (pyritinol HCl)
Speaking at the time Dioka Ejionueme, director of port inspections 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.”
While the NAFDAC’s ban does suggest that significant strides are being made in Nigeria’s fight against fake drugs, the scale of the problem and personal risks being taken by those trying to affect the clampdown are not inconsiderable. In December 2003 for example following an earlier clampdown, an unsuccessful attempt was made on Professor Akunyili’s life.