The Bill on counterfeit and fake drugs will help reduce the circulation of substandard counterfeit medicine or medical products in Nigeria, experts and health associations have said.
They stated this during the public hearing on the Bill for an Act to repeal the counterfeit and fake drugs and unwholesome processed foods (miscellaneous provisions) act cap c34, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004; and to make provisions for the prohibition and control of counterfeit medical products, fake drugs and unwholesome processed foods and for related matters 2021, in Abuja.
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The Bill was sponsored by the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Healthcare Services , Hon. Tanko Sununu and Hon. Samuel Babatunde Adejare.
Pharmacist Hashim Ubale Yusufu, past chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Fake and Counterfeit Drugs,
said that the enforcement of the provisions of the Act should be vested in an independent body.
“I propose it should be vested in a task force domiciled under the Federal Ministry of Health; the said task force should be headed by a Director-General appointed by the President; the said task force should have a distinct budget line to guarantee its independence, and the Bill should be focused on substandard and falsified medical products to accommodate statutory definitions and protocols as contained in international instruments.”
He said doing so would substantially change the structure and legal framework of dealing with the menace of substandard and falsified medical products.
Asked if it will reduce the powers of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), he said that NAFDAC has its powers, “With a lot of work that NAFDAC was doing, at a point, there was a lot circulation of these counterfeit medicines. The pharmacists got worried and asked for a task force to take the menace out of the system.”
The Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, who was represented by Kingsley Ijiofor, Director Investigation and Enforcement said that her agency was fully in support of the Bill.
President, Nigeria Medical Association, Dr Uche Rowland Ojinmah, said that while his association supports the Bill, it suggests amendment to the proposed Section 8 as it relates to the constitution of the national and states committees respectively to include a representative of the medical practitioners which shall be appointed by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN).
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Healthcare Services Hon. Tanko Sununu said, “We must ensure that we protect the health of Nigerians. The economy has gone down. The percentage of our out-of-pocket spending is at the level of 70 to 75 per cent and if we cannot provide drugs and allow people to go and buy fake drugs or poison, its not fair.