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NAFDAC impounds N100m worth of fake drugs

By Chioma Obinna
THE National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, yesterday impounded a consignment of anti malarial tablets, LONART(R) worth over N10 million, even as it sealed two pharmaceutical shops in Idumota, area of Lagos for stocking fake drugs.

The anti malarial drugs, which comprise of 10,000 sachets of six tablets each of LONART DS packed in green woven polyethene sacks were concealed within bags and shoes covered with blankets.

Details of the product are: Batch number LD-64, manufacturing date is 02/2009 while the expiry date is 01/2011.

Briefing journalists shortly after raiding suspected pharmaceutical shops in Mushin and Idumota, which led to the closure of two shops found to be selling fake drugs, Director-General of NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orihii, said the drugs when tested with NAFDAC newly acquired Truscan equipment turned out to contain only corn starch and corn meal.

The Agency’s Director of Enforcement, Dr. Momodu-Segiru Momodu, explained that  suspects, the importer, the clearing agent and a driver had been arrested while a Naval rating who was to escort the consignment was still at large and that the police authorities were on his trail.

He said the main suspect, Mr. Ugo Best, who is the importer and  alleged to have abandoned the consignment on sighting NAFDAC, resides in Kano but had been brought to Lagos for further interrogation.

The Director-General who regretted that fake LONART consumption could have resulted in many deaths if not for the interception said the product was purported to have been manufactured by Bliss GVS Pharma Limited at 10, Dewan Udyog  Hagar, Aliyalui, Palghar, India.

Differences

Pointing out the differences from the original LONART DS, the Deputy Director in-charge of Ports Inspectorate Directorate, Mrs. Elizabeth Awagu, explained that on the genuine pack, NAFDAC registration N0. 049927 is stamped with blue ink on the sachet while the same number is printed on the sachet with no “REG” after the word NAFDAC.

“BG” is embossed on the tablet while “GVS” is embossed on the fake tablet.  LONART and the broad band on the face of the packet are deep purple in colour while LONART and the broad band on the packet of the fake are in lighter shades of purple (amour pink).

“When the tablet of the genuine is broken into two, the inside is yellow in colour while the tablet of the fake when broken into two, the inside is white in colour,”she said.

Also speaking on the raid, the Director of Establishment and Inspectorate, Mrs. Hauwa  Keri who disclosed that the raid would become a routine activity said the raid carried out in Mushin and Idumota areas of Lagos was also to demonstrate how the newly acquired Truscan equipment works to the media as well as traders themselves.

Keri who lamented insufficient numbers of the device stated that plans are underway to import more of it as it would shorten the period on time spent in Laboratory analysis for fake drugs in the country.


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