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We need proper policing at our border, ports, Agboade

By Moses Nosike

Sir Orimadegun Agboade is the Managing Director and CEO of  Orfema Pharmaceutical Industries. In this interview, he explains why there are many  fake and substandard products in circulation in Nigerian   markets  today.

The circulation of fake and substandard  products   seems to have defied the efforts of  regulating authorities. What do you think should be done?

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 ways  of  reducing   it. Let me also add that in any organisation, there are  always bad eggs and  so, we may not be able eradicate it totally.  Now, a lot of things can be taken into consideration  if  we want to curb this menace. People import fake drugs and here, we have fake  and substandard drugs.

So, I think we need  serious policing of our ports and borders. We may need to  review and look at where there are loopholes.
Recently, we read that some containers carrying  imported fake products were arrested on the road. They have left the ports  and were caught on the roads. How did  they come in? The borders, airports and numerous routes along our border lines should be policed and  the ports inspection  procedure should be reviewed  to make sure that  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 equipments  that are used to make  inspection procedures easier.
The  next point  is the drug markets and shops. This is an open market where  you can   ask somebody to bring something without giving him an alternative.

They said they don’t want  markets in Idumota and all  that. Fine, I agree. But let’s  create  an atmosphere where these business people can get  their shops registered. Many of them are wealthy. They can afford to employ pharmacists, get their premises registered. I don’t  think  it is  right to  go to their shops and drive them out and lock   their shops. Give them alternative places,  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 you  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 don’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 swallowing  that  is dangerous. So, to detect that, I want to suggest that NAFDAC in addition to what they’re doing, should pick a pack of  Orfema  product, pick a pack of any other person’s product, take them to the laboratory at random and if the drugs  fail to meet the  requirement  they put on the pack, then  it could be fake but as long as it is detected , such a company will now go back to the  process to review and make sure that things are done properly.

When people  know that there is a regulative person , they will be careful. I always say that whatever we produce is by the Grace of God. We  are Christians and this  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 as  to get profit. W e run so hard to remain on the same spot.

There are  a lot of  challenges, like we’ve  been on generator since morning. One drum is almost finishing and at N101 and N112  what do you do?  That’s what  is making people to  look for short cuts.

You said you would suggest that  NAFDAC at random take certain products to the  laboratory to check fakes, what of  situations where people produce fake but use  original packs of a particular brand? How can this be traced if taken to   a laboratory?
That’s a good point. I think it’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.  But there is something that can be done.

It will be on every pack and  it’s a thing you can’t rub off. That is the specialty. I think NAFDAC is doing another one which I’m sure is in advanced stage  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 you  the date  the product was manufactured, who manufactured  it  and  so on  . So by the time we get all those things in place, those people will not have any place to hide.

Unemployment  rate in the country is being blamed  for the menace of  fake and expired   products. Do you share this opinion?
I think to some  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.  I’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 of  the environment.

For instance ,we did this road by ourselves but yet, the local government will come and say  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 can’t even afford  such on a gutter. When we were trading, yes, but not now when the compressor is off one day, the  generator is not working, the third day, it  may be the water treatment plant  that has a problem. The  human element  is  also there. So in a way, the environment that is harsh  has  contributed  a great deal to this problem of  faking.

And if the environment is friendly and government gets things done properly, a  lot of  things will change for the better. For NEPA, we’ve waited for a very long time. They promised us 6000MW but up till today ,we’ve not seen it.As an industrialist, how can we promote drug business and discourage expired ones from being  circulated?

Well, there are moves even through NAFDAC towards that.  What we know is that many of our facilities are not what they should be, but  if  government can pump in money, that  is  in form of loan,  limit  the interest rate,  it will discourage a  lot of  this faking .
Secondly, FG should form alliance with those countries that are exporting  to us. What do I mean?  We were in India last year and  it coincided with the time when


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