By Moses Nosike
Sir Orimadegun Agboade is the Managing Director and CEO ofÂ Orfema Pharmaceutical Industries. In this interview, he explains why there are manyÂ fake and substandard products in circulation in NigerianÂ Â marketsÂ today.
Let me first say that the regulating authorities are trying and their efforts have started yielding results. Fake and counterfeits go together. And if we look at it from this perspective, then we will be able to suggest waysÂ ofÂ reducingÂ Â it. Let me also add that in any organisation, there areÂ always bad eggs andÂ so, we may not be able eradicate it totally.Â Now, a lot of things can be taken into considerationÂ ifÂ we want to curb this menace. People import fake drugs and here, we have fakeÂ and substandard drugs.
So, I think we needÂ serious policing of our ports and borders. We may need toÂ review and look at where there are loopholes.
Recently, we read that some containers carryingÂ imported fake products were arrested on the road. They have left the portsÂ and were caught on the roads. How didÂ they come in? The borders, airports and numerous routes along our border lines should be policed andÂ the ports inspectionÂ procedure should be reviewedÂ to make sure thatÂ all the pot holes and all the containers that we see on the roads are really checked at the ports.
We should have perfect inspection. There are equipmentsÂ that are used to makeÂ inspection procedures easier.
TheÂ next pointÂ is the drug markets and shops. This is an open market whereÂ you canÂ Â ask somebody to bring something without giving him an alternative.
They said they donâ€™t wantÂ markets in Idumota and allÂ that. Fine, I agree. But letâ€™sÂ createÂ an atmosphere where these business people can getÂ their shops registered. Many of them are wealthy. They can afford to employ pharmacists, get their premises registered. I donâ€™tÂ thinkÂ it isÂ right toÂ go to their shops and drive them out and lockÂ Â their shops. Give them alternative places,Â give them template of whom to employ and how to get their premises registered. I think that will be beneficial for the country.
And when youÂ look at the other side, that is the substandard and the locally produced goods, there are insinuations that a lot of our products being manufactured locally donâ€™t contain what they are supposed to contain, like Paracetamol is supposed to be 500mg. Some people insinuate that there could be some in the market containing 250mg.|
They just package chalk and swallowingÂ thatÂ is dangerous. So, to detect that, I want to suggest that NAFDAC in addition to what theyâ€™re doing, should pick a pack ofÂ OrfemaÂ product, pick a pack of any other personâ€™s product, take them to the laboratory at random and if the drugsÂ fail to meet theÂ requirementÂ they put on the pack, thenÂ it could be fake but as long as it is detected , such a company will now go back to theÂ process to review and make sure that things are done properly.
When peopleÂ know that there is a regulative person , they will be careful. I always say that whatever we produce is by the Grace of God. WeÂ are Christians and thisÂ is a Christian organisation and we run it on ethical grounds. We will never produce anything substandard. But some other people will not see it that way, they will like to cut corners so asÂ to get profit. W e run so hard to remain on the same spot.
There areÂ a lot ofÂ challenges, like weâ€™veÂ been on generator since morning. One drum is almost finishing and at N101 and N112Â what do you do?Â Thatâ€™s whatÂ is making people toÂ look for short cuts.
You said you would suggest thatÂ NAFDAC at random take certain products to theÂ laboratory to check fakes, what ofÂ situations where people produce fake but useÂ original packs of a particular brand? How can this be traced if taken toÂ Â a laboratory?
Thatâ€™s a good point. I think itâ€™s a challenge. But NAFDAC is trying to introduce what we call hologram on the packs, but even then, there is still the evidence that people can fake packs with hologram.Â But there is something that can be done.
It will be on every pack andÂ itâ€™s a thing you canâ€™t rub off. That is the specialty. I think NAFDAC is doing another one which Iâ€™m sure is in advanced stageÂ and that you can check from your handset. When you get a pack, you have a number you will dial and that number will tell youÂ the dateÂ the product was manufactured, who manufacturedÂ itÂ andÂ so onÂ . So by the time we get all those things in place, those people will not have any place to hide.
UnemploymentÂ rate in the country is being blamedÂ for the menace ofÂ fake and expiredÂ Â products. Do you share this opinion?
I think to someÂ extent. My belief is that if people can get things done in a right way, without having to bribe and the environment is friendly, things would be different.Â Iâ€™m agreeing with that statement that the environment is unfriendly, things are very harsh. Not many people can say, look I want to do business in a genuine way and stand by it because of the harshness ofÂ the environment.
For instance ,we did this road by ourselves but yet, the local government will come and sayÂ they want to collect tenament rate. We did this gulter, it cost us N500,000.00 when money was money.
I have records to show. Right now, we canâ€™t even affordÂ such on a gutter. When we were trading, yes, but not now when the compressor is off one day, theÂ generator is not working, the third day, itÂ may be the water treatment plantÂ that has a problem. TheÂ human elementÂ isÂ also there. So in a way, the environment that is harshÂ hasÂ contributedÂ a great deal to this problem ofÂ faking.
And if the environment is friendly and government gets things done properly, aÂ lot ofÂ things will change for the better. For NEPA, weâ€™ve waited for a very long time. They promised us 6000MW but up till today ,weâ€™ve not seen it.As an industrialist, how can we promote drug business and discourage expired ones from beingÂ circulated?
Well, there are moves even through NAFDAC towards that.Â What we know is that many of our facilities are not what they should be, butÂ ifÂ government can pump in money, thatÂ isÂ in form of loan,Â limitÂ the interest rate,Â it will discourage aÂ lot ofÂ this faking .
Secondly, FG should form alliance with those countries that are exportingÂ to us. What do I mean?Â We were in India last year andÂ it coincided with the time when