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NAFDAC raises alarm over proliferation of substandard medicines threatening public health and economic growth

The Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Moji Adeyeye, has voiced her concerns over the alarming proliferation of substandard and falsified medicines, highlighting the imminent dangers posed to public health and economic growth.

Prof. Adeyeye addressed the issue during her keynote speech at the 23rd NECCI PR Roundtable held in Lagos, where she emphasized that the illicit sales and distribution of substandard and falsified medicines are not only a national concern but also a global threat to public health and the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Under the theme “Fighting the Scourge of Illicit Trade in the Pharma Industry: The Role of Communication,” Prof. Adeyeye stressed that the menace carries profound financial implications, potentially leading to significant financial losses, divestment, and even the closure of businesses within the pharmaceutical industry.

She underlined the necessity of a multi-faceted approach to combat this multifaceted problem, emphasizing that no single agency could undertake the battle alone. She noted that concerted efforts from multiple stakeholders were needed to address the challenges effectively.

Prof. Adeyeye identified various challenges contributing to the proliferation of substandard and falsified medicines, including:

  • Uncoordinated drug distribution and supply chain systems.
  • Drug hawking and the prevalence of street/open drug markets.
  • The increased use of postal and courier services for dispatching small parcels of substandard and falsified medicines.
  • Availability of advanced technologies that facilitate illicit activities.
  • Weak deterrent laws and penalties for offenders.
  • The emergence of rogue online pharmacists and unregulated online medicine sales.
  • Socioeconomic factors such as ignorance, poverty, and the high cost of living.
  • The misuse of free trade zones and lawful trade facilitation mechanisms.

Prof. Adeyeye also shed light on the steps NAFDAC is taking to address this critical issue, including the attainment of ISO9001:2015 certification and WHO Maturity Level 3. These milestones signify that NAFDAC has developed a regulatory system that operates efficiently, transparently, and effectively to regulate medicines and imported vaccines. These achievements aim to ensure universal health coverage by providing safe, effective, quality, and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all Nigerians.

Nkechi Ali-Balogun, the convener of the NECCI PR Roundtable, highlighted the pivotal role of the pharmaceutical sector in safeguarding public health. She emphasized the need to combat illicit trade activities, which undermine legitimate progress in the sector.

The concerns raised by NAFDAC underscore the urgency of addressing the proliferation of substandard and falsified medicines, safeguarding public health, and fortifying Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industry to achieve both national and international health and economic goals.

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