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Fake drugs: NAFDAC adopts WHO Rapid Alert system

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By Chioma Obinna

LAGOS—National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, has adopted the World Health Organisation’s, WHO, Rapid Alert System for the surveillance and monitoring of Substandard/ Spurious/Falsely Labelled/ Falsified Counterfeit, SSFFC, medicinal products in Nigeria.

This came on the heels of global identification of SSFFC medical products as one of the major actors responsible for treatment failures and development of drug resistance, creating unfavourable business environment for manufacturers, importers and health care providers.

NAFDAC DG, Paul Orhi.
NAFDAC DG, Paul Orhi.

As such, NAFDAC in collaboration with WHO, has trained focal persons from different countries’ medicine regulatory authorities including Nigeria, on the use of new WHO initiative for SSFFC reporting – The Rapid Alert System.

Speaking at a one-day training workshop, the Director General of the Agency, Dr. Paul Orhii, said the adoption of the WHO’s Rapid Alert System became necessary as activities of counterfeiters had denied Nigerians access to quality drugs and caused untimely death of many innocent citizens causing serious national embarrassment.

According to him, “counterfeiters produce nearly exact replicas of genuine drugs, copying every detail including packaging and labeling. They have even advanced to imitating holograms and other sophisticated printing techniques. Many member countries have noted the regulatory gaps and poor technical capacities that have led to the continued circulation of SSFFC medical products in our region. Apart from the survey conducted by DFID/WHO and NAFDAC in 2005 on the prevalence of counterfeit drugs in Nigeria, there has not been any other study to determine the extent the problem whether nationally, regionally or internationally.”

He said WHO SSFFC Global Surveillance and Monitoring project was designed to significantly improve the quality and quantity of data concerning SSFFC products through the systematic and structured reporting via a Rapid Alert System to the WHO.

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