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Counterfeit Drugs: Without Manpower , Vehicles, ‘We’ Can’t Match Drug Cabals , NAFDAC Boss

If appropriate staff and operating vehicles are not made available to the regulatory authority, Nigeria risks losing the war against drug counterfeiting and the threats it poses to the citizenry’s health.

Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, Director General of the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), revealed this alarming reality at a budget defense session with the House of Representatives Committee on Health Services on Thursday.

This came as the House Committee questioned what it called “overbloated statistics” in the Agency’s 2022 budget for the many capital projects slated for completion in the fiscal year 2022.

The nation’s Food and Drugs regulatory leader told lawmakers that in the past, the agency had to rely on corporations for their operational mobility before they could go for inspection, in defense of her agency and its use of what was revealed the previous year.

According to her, “In the past, NAFDAC was asking companies to send them vehicles to come and inspect them. Who does not know that you will have to do a favour for those who provided us vehicles? What I am saying is that there were no vehicles and we use vehicles for good manufacturing practice, we use it for clinical sites and other inspections. About 80 percent of our work is field work and without vehicles, we cannot work and that is what you will use to pursue those who wants to kill our people.

“In 2020, we had a survey which was done in collaboration with WHO. But it was limited in scope. Some of the products were local products and others imported and we found some compromises and we shut down production lines and companies involved lost hundreds of millions of naira because we wanted to send a message to them that our people are more important and the health of our people are more important.

“We have black listed companies and we published them for trying to take us for granted. These are companies from South East Asia and we also black listed products of companies they are associating with in Nigeria. Our enforcement team work round the clock.

“About ten days ago, they went on a raid based on a tip off and they recovered eight trucks load of falsified medicines.
Another way we are approaching it is to use a detection device which FEC (Federal Executive Council) approved for us in December 2020. Each one of them cost about 57000 dollars after it has been discounted for us. We are able to buy 40 which they are manufacturing right now. It is called Truscan. NAFDAC is the first agency in the world to use it about 10 years ago and we bought about 6 then and we are no buying 40 more. It can tell you whether the drug is falsified or substandard”, the DG told lawmakers.

Chairman of the House Committee Hon. Tanko Sununu and other committee members had raised issues with the figures proposed in the 2022 budget of the agency for its capital projects.

The DG had presented an estimate of N25.2 billion for the 2022 fiscal year as expenditure and revenue projections of the agency including capital projects earmarked for execution.

In summary of the capital projects, the agency had earmarked, N2.9 billion is for building of state offices, N1.7bn for generators, N1.4 billion for laboratory equipments, N1.42 billion for motor vehicles, N666 million for information and communications technology and N78 million for furniture, totalling N6.01 billion

Also , in 2022 budget, the agency had earmarked N6.78 billion for staff emoluments, N262 million for equipments and N157.8 million for purchase of laptop computers and N40.1 million for the building of its Ebonyi state office.

But the Committee helmsman and other lawmakers expressed displeasure with the huge budget proposal items for each of the budget heads saying that it is worrisome to see such huge figures in the budget items despite the previous years approved budgets.

Sununu while querying these line items presented by the agency called on the DG to ensure effective collaboration of NAFDAC with other relevant healthcare agencies, such as Nigeria Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development NIPRD and Nigeria Institute of Medical Research NIMR.

Similarly, the lawmaker and another committee member, Hon. Omowumni Ogunlola (Osun, APC) had earlier raised issues with the lopsidedness of the recent recruitment carried out by the NIMR during the agency’s budget defence session by the Committee.

Other lawmakers in the Committee notably Hon. Isiaka Ibrahim (Ogun, APC), Hon. Aminu Suleiman (Kano, APC) as well as Hon Muhammad Wudil (Kano, APC) also kicked against the award of contracts above the approved threshold of these agencies by the chief executive officers.

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