Re: Pharmacists Want Own Member To Head NAFDAC

No Comments » April 30th, 2010 posted by // Categories: General Articles

Re: Pharmacists Want Own Member To Head NAFDAC

THE Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) has been reported to have alleged that the gradual emergence of fake and counterfeit drugs in the country is associated with the non- appointment of a pharmacist to head the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

Ordinarily an outburst like this should deserve no response in order not to glorify ignorance demonstrated in the statement by the group which was full of grammatical and technical errors as well as outright contradiction, but for the potential of such smear campaign to misinform the public, these paid hirelings need to be put squarely to where they belong-roadside kiosks.

It should be recalled that the Association had last year gone to court to compel the President to void Orhii’s appointment. Now that Jonathan believes that replacing key appointments made by Yar’adua, is a sure way to get a stronghold on power, these agents have resurrected this campaign with the hope of making Orhii the next target of Jonathan’s political survival strategy.

To start with, it is highly disingenuous and mischievous if not libelous to suggest that there has been a ‘gradual emergence’ of fake drugs in Nigeria for whatever reason because fake drugs and other fake products have always been there and this is what informed the creation of NAFDAC in the first place to fight this menace, and at no point has there been an100% eradication of fake drugs for there to be a‘re-emergence’. Had these jesters wanted to make some sense, they should have done some statistics to tell the public the percentage of fake drugs in circulation across the country prior to the current DG’s appointment and what the percentage is now. Even though it would be a necessary condition, this alone would not be sufficient proof to the claim that the increase is attributable to the fact of the DG not being a Pharmacist (even if he is not).

Contrary to their claim that the drug war was won under Orhii’s predecessor, Nigerians still remember that under the watchful eyes of Prof. Dora Akunyilii, the now famous ‘My Pikin’ drug sneaked into the Lagos market bearing an ‘authentic’ NAFDAC approval, and killed hundreds of innocent kids. Where were these ACPN members then? What research did they do to identify the cause of this incident? How did they explain the fact that this could happen under a ‘pharmacist’ head of NAFDAC? Interestingly the woman under whom this ugly incident happened continues to be praised to high heavens for her ‘giant strides’ in NAFDAC.

Even if we forgive the grammatical errors (because we all make them) the technical blunders in this statement are simply unpardonable. You simply can’t come to equity with unclean hands. It is outlandish that someone who does not even know the duty of the NAFDAC DG would want to be the authority to set the requisite qualifications for the appointee.

For the education of Mr. Alkali, the DG NAFDAC is not the ‘chief inspector of fake drugs’ instead the DG is saddled with a broader mandate to regulate and control quality standards for foods, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, chemicals, detergents and packaged water imported, manufactured locally and distributed in Nigeria. What this means is that regulation of drugs is just a fraction of the DG’s responsibilities. It is therefore incongruous for every group in his broad portfolio to insist that only a specialist in their respective fields could head NAFDAC. What would happen if the Association of Food Vendors, Medical Devices Union, Cosmetics Distributors Association, Chemical Manufacturers Association or the Association of Bottled Water Manufacturers all insists that their member must head NAFDAC?

The inspection of drugs, just like Food, Cosmetics etc, is handled by an appropriate  Director in the NAFDAC’s organization who is a specialist in that field, who then reports to the Director General.  The DG only has the administrative duty of coordinating the activities of the various directorates to achieve the objectives of the Agency. We need to remember that the DG of SON, who is a Chemist, regulates standards for Electrical, Mechanical, Civil/Building as well as chemical products, we have never heard the Nigerian Society of Engineers agitate that only their member should head SON.



All that Alkali and his co-travelers need to do to give themselves some sleep in the night is to apply this logic on the Minister of Health to the DG post, because, both of them are basically administrative. Therefore the professional background of the NAFDAC DG is less critical than his administrative acumen to his success.

My advice to ACPN is that, instead of chasing shadows, they should continue their claimed collaboration with NAFDAC and Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) which according to them led to the destruction of expired drugs worth N26,515,436.50 .

Despite his shyness from press propaganda, the new DG has silently taken the fight to the next level, deploying the latest technological advancements to tackle the menace. Recently the Agency deployed Mobile Authentication Service (MAS) for drugs in the country. The technology involves packaging of drugs which will include a scratch card placed on each of the drug packages from the point of manufacture for the consumer with six labels, each of which hides a code. Patients are to send these codes for free through short message service (SMS) from MTN, GLO and Zain networks to 38353. Shortly after sending the message, the patient will receive a reply stating if the medicine is genuine or fake.

The DG believes that such an innovative approach that puts the power in the hands of the consumer to detect fake drugs and effectively take control of his safety is much more effective than paid advertorials or press propaganda to hype his performance.

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