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Senate worries over delay in passage of Anti-counterfeiting Bill

By CHIOMA OBINNA

The Senate Committee on Health has urged the Executive arm of government to expedite action on the Counterfeit Medical Products, Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods (Prohibition and Control) Bill being presented by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC.

Making the call weekend during a working visit to health establishments in Lagos as part of their oversight function, Chairman of the Committee, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, said the 7th National Assembly was eagerly waiting to receive the Bill.

Okowa, who regretted the current delay on the part of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, expressed worry that the National Assembly, was unlikely to have enough time to debate, amend and pass the Bill into law before it’s tenure expires in 2015.

In 2010, NAFDAC had reviewed the existing anti-counterfeiting law and produced a draft bill, seeking life term jail and confiscation of assets of convicted suspects, as well as compensation for victims of counterfeiting, and to make counterfeiting a non-bailable offence, among others.

Okowa, who was accompanied by four of the committee members, however, commended the Agency for introduction of various anti-counterfeiting technologies and for enlisting Nigerian pharmaceutical companies into the World Health Organisation, WHO, Prequalification Programme, which currently involves eight Nigerian companies.

“The Agency should also focus more on the health of Nigerians by ensuring that these anti -counterfeiting technologies are enough for more monitoring activities.”

Earlier, NAFDAC Director-General, Dr. Paul Orhii, said the importance of the anti-counterfeiting Bill could not be overemphasised as drug counterfeiting “still remains one of the greatest challenges facing us”.

Factors encouraging counterfeiting to include large population, porous borders, heavy disease burden, low local production capacityamong others.

Drugs most counterfeited include anti-malarials, anti-hypertensives, antibiotics, anti-diabetics and lifestyles drugs.

NAFDAC is rated among the 20 best drug regulatory agencies in the world.

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