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Fake Medicines: NAFDAC To Use Technology To Monitor Drug Supply Chain

To prevent unscrupulous people from taking advantage of the current high cost of medicines in the country, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has disclosed that it would be using traceability technology to monitor drug supply chain to prevent manufacturing and distribution of substandard medicines.

The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, who stated this at a webinar lecture organized by The Cable Newspaper to celebrate its tenth anniversary with the theme: ‘Addressing Costs of Medicines’, warned those who may start making substandard medicines to cash in that the agency is not asleep.

“Our work is 24/7 in terms of regulation and control of SF medicines. We do unannounced inspections of local manufacturers. Since, February 16 and 17 this year we went after the Open Drug marketers because some of the unscrupulous manufacturers or importers use the open market as a haven for substandard falsified medicines.

“We will be using Traceability technology to monitor the supply chain,” a statement on Sunday by Sayo Akintola, NAFDAC’s Resident Media Consultant quoted Adeyeye as saying.

According to her, the agency is leading in Africa and second in the world using Track and Trace technology.

The DG assured Nigerians that the high cost of medicines in the country would become a thing of the past as the agency in partnership with the pharmaceutical industry are working hard to bring down the cost of drugs.

Adeyeye identified rejuvenation of the local pharmaceutical industry as a panacea for high cost of medicines in the country, adding that locally manufactured medicinal products would be more accessible and affordable compared to the imported drugs.

She pointed out that the devaluation of the Naira accounted largely for high cost of production locally as the high exchange rate made procurement of raw materials and equipment imported for production extremely high, stating that due to difficulty associated with procurement of dollar, the cost of the imported drugs has also hit the roof.

To encourage the local pharmaceutical industry to grow, Adeyeye said NAFDAC under her leadership has introduced some policy changes like the 5 plus 5 regulatory scheme and NAFDAC Ceiling 34 wherein drugs under those ceilings cannot be imported.

“Our manufacturers import everything except water,” she said, adding that the raw materials – Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) and the non-active called Excipients are all imported.

“I told the industry operators that we need to start making some APIs locally and that has resulted in EMZOR almost completing their facilities in Shagamu. They are going to be making four anti-malaria APIs sulfadoxime, Pyrimethamine, Artemether and Lumefantrine. The Fidson consortium is also planning manufacturing some APIs. The DG said the initiative was aimed at reducing the cost of drugs eventually.

“But we cannot start manufacturing locally without strengthening the regulations because we have never regulated local manufacturing of APIs,” Adeyeye said.

Also speaking at the event, Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Ali Pate, noted that the escalating costs of pharmaceuticals are part of the global phenomenon, expressing regrets that for the past 20 years, the nation has been catching up, stressing that the present administration is focused on solving the issue.

“We are working hard to do so through the Presidential Initiative to Unlock the Pharmaceutical Value Chain that the President announced in October 2023. But two pockets of issues underlying what we are observing now. Nigerians are hurting. There is Forex devaluation which is on the supply side. The ability to buy materials, equipment, and the infrastructure deficit. Some infrastructure for manufacturing that we have is not at the level that could meet the demand that we have,” he said.

The minister disclosed that the government has continued to engage with the pharmaceutical consultative forum, saying “We are just finalizing an instrument from the government to address the fiscal policy constraints for the raw materials and manufacturing equipment. That’s an instrument that signals the government intervention that we will do in addition to advancing medical industrialization agenda.”

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