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Drug insecurity: Nigeria doesn’t manufacture anything except water, says NAFDAC boss

ON Monday, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, revealed that the current COVID-19 pandemic ravaging several parts of the world jeopardises drug security in Nigeria, as most drugs are imported.

Mojisola Adeyeye, the Director-General of the food and drug security agency, disclosed this at a press briefing held at NAFDAC’s headquarters in Abuja to announce the upcoming African Medicine Quality Forum meeting billed for February 24th to 28th.

Explaining, that Nigeria imports more than seventy per cent of its medicines and other active and non-active ingredients which is setting a dangerous tone of drug insecurity if not curtailed.

“Seventy per cent 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.

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

India, China and the United States of America, USA, are Nigeria’s biggest pharmaceutical import destinations with drugs worth $481 million imported into the country from those countries in 2013. Though, there are no recent statistics according to The Times of Africa drug imports were projected to increase by 10.4 per cent and attain the $789 million mark in 2018.

The NAFDAC boss also advised people to cease from cooking their foods with paracetamol, especially the use of the drugs to make meats tender.

“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 that we are short-staffed, but I think the government is doing something about this,” she said.

She said the agency was 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.

“Part of our global benchmarking 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,” she said.

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