The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Sunday in Abuja appealed to the judiciary to institute stiffer penalties against peddlers of counterfeit and unwholesome drugs.
The agency also called on the National Assembly to pass the counterfeit medical product Bill to strengthen the agency’s war against offenders, and to make the penalty serve as a deterrent to abusers.
The appeal was contained in a statement signed by the agency’s resident media consultant, Olusayo Akintola, and made available to newsmen in Abuja on Sunday.
The statement quoted NAFDAC Director General, Moji Adeyeye, as saying that perpetrators of the illicit trade do capitalize on the weak law in the land to wreak havoc on the nation’s health system.
She spoke against the backdrop of the ongoing destruction of falsified and expired medicines, cosmetics, and unwholesome food products across the country by the agency.
The NAFDAC boss appealed to the judiciary to take a stricter view of counterfeiting and apply the maximum penalty of the weak laws to deter counterfeiters and fraudsters from the dangers they pose to the society.
Mrs Adeyeye said that the dangerous business would be made unattractive if it carries maximum penalty against offenders, while appealing to NASS to pass counterfeit medical product Bill to reinforce the war against counterfeiting in Nigeria.
She warned that henceforth, there would be no hiding place for the merchants of death who she said derived joy in circulating expired, falsified drugs and putting the health of millions of Nigerians at risk.
Mrs Adeyeye said that NAFDAC have resolved to go after those who engage in circulation of counterfeited and expired medicines in the country until they are apprehended and made to face the wrath of the law.
She said the agency would not rest on its oars until those merchants of death desist from the nefarious activities, even though NAFDAC had seized and destroyed unwholesome products worth over N 5 billion in five months.
According to her, the agency destroyed unwholesome medicines, expired food items and cosmetics worth N1,429,580,683.00 in Awka, the capital city of Anambra State, in March for South-South and Southeast operations.
She recalled that such dangerous products, worth N613,300,290.00, were also destroyed in Kano within the same period.
She said that the agency also moved to Gombe in May to destroy counterfeited and expired medicines, and food items worth N515,732.587 as well as mopped up in the North-east.
According to Mrs Adeyeye, fake and expired medicines, and food products, worth N2,482,600,290, seized in the Southwest were destroyed in Shagamu, Ogun State, last week.
She assured Nigerians that the Agency would stop at nothing to apprehend the people who engage in the illicit business of endangering the lives of undiscerning consumers who patronize them.
“The operatives of the agency had combed the nooks and crannies of the five geo-political zones of the federation, namely, North-west, North-east, South-east, South-south and South-west
“This is to mop up expired drugs and unwholesome food products with a view to safeguarding the health of the Nigerian people,” she said.
Mrs Adeyeye noted that the destruction was part of the efforts to rid the Nigerian market of unwholesome products and engender public confidence.
“The destroyed products include drugs such as antibiotics, antihypertensive, antimalarial, herbal remedies, psychoactive, controlled substances, food products such as spaghetti, vegetable oil, non-alcoholic beverages, sachet water, chocolates and noodles.
“The continued destruction of the spurious products would eliminate the risk of their reintroduction into the market. Drug counterfeiting is an act of economic sabotage and it poses a serious threat to public health.“
“This is why NAFDAC has resolved to safeguard the health of the people and ensure that only genuine medicines that are wholesome are sold in Nigeria,” she said.
ALSO READ: Reps panel queries NAFDAC over extra-budgetary spending, yet to remit N13.5billion
“She said that the flag off of the southwest zonal destruction exercise was in line with the agency mandate and strategy aimed at eradicating the reintroduction of expired, Substandard and Falsified (SFs) medical products.
She therefore appreciated the support of the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Department of State Security (DSS) and Nigeria Security, Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), and solicited for sustained synergy of the security agencies to ensure that the country was rid of illicit, fake and unwholesome NAFDAC regulated products.
She appealed to community leaders, faith-based organisations, health practitioners and the media to continue to educate members of the public to desist from patronising quacks and hawkers of medicines and unwholesome foods.
Mrs Adeyeye appealed to members of the public to release valuable information that would help in getting information to fight these merchants of unwholesome products.