NIGERIA – The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in Nigeria has called for collaboration with pharmaceutical distributors and stakeholders to combat the distribution of substandard and falsified medicine.

NAFDAC is a federal agency under the Federal Ministry of Health that is responsible for regulating and controlling the manufacture, importation, exportation, advertisement, distribution, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, chemicals and packaged water.

The call for health collaboration is in line with the Nigerian Federal Agency’s five-year drug traceability plan for the country aimed at improving the integrity of the pharmaceutical distribution chain and solving issues affecting pharmaceutical distribution.

According to a report by the World Health Organization in 2017, one in 10 drugs sold in developing countries are fake or substandard and these counterfeit products are leading thousands to their early graves. These fake drugs are also growing threats to the pharmaceutical trade.

The global health organization further warned that a worrying number of authorized medicines fail to meet quality standards because of improper storage and other issues while fake drugs could contain incorrect doses, wrong ingredients or no active ingredients at all.

The drug traceability plan comes at a time when the Federal government has made efforts to shut down open drug markets operating at Idumota in Lagos, Sabon Gari Market in Kano State as well as Ariara Market in Aba, Abia State to reduce the harms that illicit drug use can inflict on the local community.

The plan seeks to address bad drug procurement and distribution systems problems and challenges the government has encountered in relocating the open drug markets to designated areas where the drug distribution system can be properly monitored.

Speaking at the Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Distributors Association of Nigeria’s Conference held in Lagos, NAFDAC Director of Registration and Regulatory Affairs Dr. Monica Eimunjeze reaffirmed that there was already a regulatory framework in place for the five-year drug traceability plan.

There is a five years implementation plan for traceability and different elements to that plan. We have a distribution framework but we still have a long way to go. We are also training industries on how to put things in place. It is a five-year plan and we are working towards it,” explained Dr Monica.

Moreover, Nigeria has plans underway to inaugurated a drug distribution facility in Kano within the next three months in an effort to ensure that the drug distribution system is well-monitored and promote quality control of pharmaceutical products.

Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Distributors Association of Nigeria Chairman Ernest Okafor revealed that the retailer’s association is trying to coming up with technological solutions to issues affecting the current pharmaceutical distribution system.

The solution, going by the international best practices, is using technology to drive drug distribution. We are talking about traceability. If we can have a digital tool that can identify the different products, we can use it in the supply chain. We are after supply chain integrity,” he stated.

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