The long wait by Nigerians to see drug counterfeiters face stricter punishment as drug counterfeiting becomes non-bailable, may soon become reality if a Draft Bill being sponsored by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) gets the nod from the National Assembly, just as the Agency has threatened impose severe sanctions on Fast Food Restaurants utilising expired products food preparation.
The Draft Bill is also seeking to impose of life jail term on convicted fake drug offenders among other severe penalties being canvassed to deter unscrupulous individuals and companies from dealing on counterfeit drugs.
Director General, NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii who dropped the hint in a paper titled â€œCombating Drug Counterfeiting; Strategies and Challengesâ€ at the Golden Jubilee Business Summit held in London to mark Nigeriaâ€™s 50th Independence anniversary said NAFDAC and the Indian High Commission have jointly reviewed the cash reward from N200, 000 to N300, 000 for any informant who provides intelligence information to the Agency leading to the arrest of a fake drug importer.
He said a provision of the Draft Law is introduction of compensatory system whereby assets of convicted counterfeit drug offendera are sold and the proceeds used to compensate victims of fake drug.
Orhii said NAFDAC wants to make faking of drugs, unwholesome foods and other substandard regulated products a very risky business venture as against the current practice where it is seen as a lucrative business.
â€œEvery year the Global Fund spends billions of dollars for procurement of drugs donated to less developed nations but unfortunately, not a single dollar drug is purchased from Nigerian pharmaceutical companies because they are not World Health Organization (WHO) prequalified. My priority is to ensure our drug companies beef up their production capacity and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) into international standard.
Meanwhile, the Agency has sanctioned 20 Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) over the last 18 months.
Disclosing this, the Director of Establishments Inspectorate Directorate, NAFDAC, Mrs. Hauwa Keri Orhii noted that all QSRs nationwide have been directed to observe Good Hygiene Practices (GHP) and Assured Safe Catering Practices (ASC) during food preparation and handling with a view to assuring safe and nutritious food for consumers.
Speaking on behalf of the DG during a National workshop for fast – food operators in Lagos, she said the Agency was inundated with complaints of all sorts and that in at least two cases, fatalities were traced to pesticide residues in the foods.
Keri said NAFDAC would not only shut down the defaulting outlets but prosecute the offenders. She said the DG wants compulsory training of all personnel involved in food preparation and service business to enable them understand that the operations they carry out are of public health significance.
NAFDAC Chief Regulatory Officer, Mr. Bola Yusuf said the workshop was designed to equip participants on necessary skills to assure safety and Good Hygienic Practices in handling of food right from the purchase of raw materials/ ingredients through processing/cooking to the consumersâ€™ fork/hand and mouth.