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Coronavirus: Nigeria in danger of drug insecurity, says NAFDAC

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has warned that the current outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, in China, puts the country in grave danger of drug insecurity, as most of our medicines are imported.

The Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, in a press briefing Monday in Abuja, on the upcoming African Medicine Quality Forum (AMQF) meeting to hold from the 24th to 28th of February, explained that Nigeria imports 70 percent of its medicines and other active and non-active ingredients.

According to her, “70 percent of our drugs are imported and the alarm I am sounding now is one everybody should take seriously. We have drug insecurity because of the coronavirus.

“India is already feeling it because they buy most of their materials and active ingredients from China. If India is feeling it, we should start praying because we don’t manufacture anything here except water; we import almost everything – active and non-active ingredients, equipment etc.

“So it is a scary thing, and I have been emphasizing this from day one. We need drug security. Since we import 70 percent of our drugs, then, we are in trouble if such things happen”.

The NAFDAC boss also urged people to desist from cooking their foods with paracetamol, especially the use of the drug to soften meats.

“When paracetamol is subjected to heat while cooking with it, it changes to para-aminophenol and benzoquine, which destroys the kidneys. We have done a lot of enlightenment because the major problem of our people is ignorance and illiteracy.

“We haven’t made any arrest because to do that we will need to test the pots of soup containing these substances at our office. Another reason is because we are short staffed, but I think the government is doing something about this,” she said.

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Concerning enforcements against peddlers of falsified and substandard medicines, Prof Adeyeye said the agency is collaborating with the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), especially in markets that are not approved or those known for substandard medicines.

She explained that NAFDAC is also in talks with online stores like Jumia, and will continue to mount pressure on them to make sure that any advertiser that want to sell medicine products on their platforms, must have been registered with PCN.

Prof. Adeyeye further added: “Part of our global bench marking is to have qualitative laboratories with well trained staff. We have been equipping our laboratories on a daily basis in terms of making sure that whatever we test or we want to test, we have equipment for them, and that our tests are reliable. We have five ISO accredited laboratories; however, we want the central drug laboratory to be World Health Organization (WHO) pre-qualified”.

The AMQF is a Technical Working Group of African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (AMRH), with goal to build and strengthen the capacity of African countries in medicines quality control and regional post marketing surveillance which in turn, will contribute significantly to reducing sub-standard and falsified medical products in circulation in African markets.

The meeting will convene all members of the AMQF including its Technical Committee (TC), leadership from USP, AUDA-NEPAD, WHO, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Regional Health Organizations (RHOs) as well as other partners and key stakeholders.

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