Hon Isa Lends Voice Against Fake Malaria Drugs


Fake medicines remain a persistent problem even in Nigeria, which has put so much effort into undercutting fake drugs. To avoid a graveyard of well-meaning apps that have limited utility, and to avoid backsliding in the fight against malaria, Nigerian organizations will need to sustain this kind of multi-pronged approach – while ensuring that quality medicines and information are available to the neediest.

Speaking with Businessmatrixnews correspondence today about the effects of fake malaria, the Hon. Member House of Representatives, Garki/Babura Federal Constituency – Jigawa State, Alhaji Isa Dogonyaro said “For as long as effective medicines have existed, people have produced fake versions. That’s because counterfeiting pharmaceutical drugs is profitable business for manufacturers. This illegal activity is most common in places with little government oversight and limited access to safe, affordable and high-quality medicines.

“It’s been estimated that 116,000 people die in sub-Saharan Africa each year because of counterfeit malaria drugs. In other words, over a quarter of all deaths from malaria are linked to fraudulent drugs.

“In addition, up to 169,271 deaths are linked to falsified and substandard antibiotics used to treat severe pneumonia in children. Recent alerts from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control warn of adulterated cough syrups, antibiotics and other children’s remedies in the market. Counterfeit drugs are a deadly and growing problem globally, particularly in developing nations where supply chain security is limited, undermining progress towards meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Nigeria’s case is dire.”

“While experts estimate that about 10 per cent of drugs in circulation worldwide are fake, a report in Bayero University, Kano’s Journal of Basic and Clinical Sciences (2017) suggested that between 41 and 50 per cent of drugs in Nigeria were substandard. To this, however, NAFDAC insists that it is no more than 15 per cent prevalence. On the average, the World Health Organisation says one in 10 medical products circulating in developing nations is substandard. “The number of people with malaria even if don’t die of malaria is astronomical in Nigeria”

Speaking further the lawmaker pointed out that Stronger action is needed to stamp out the menace. Apart from effective monitoring, surveillance, testing, intelligence, and interdiction, special attention should be paid to disrupting the sources of the fake drugs, their conveyance routes, and their distribution outlets.

“Indications are that the larger bulk of dangerous medicines originate from China and India. This requires strong collaboration among the regulators, security and diplomatic agencies. Nigeria should send a strong message to both countries that it will no longer tolerate being a dumping ground for killer medicines.

“It can be fiendishly difficult to detect these medicines. Sales over the internet, where half of the medicines sold may be counterfeit, are poorly regulated, and physical addresses can be obscured.

“Much of the advice for beating back fake meds relies on individual consumers to become pharma detectives. It’s suggested that people avoid loose pills, only frequent reputable pharmacies, and use technological tools such as blockchain, barcodes, and phone apps to verify the validity of their medicines.

“The people selling fake drugs are not spirits. There are human beings from that area, and people know what they are doing. So it begins from the community. You cannot police a society, nobody can police a society, only the society can police itself. If they know you’re doing something nefarious, they will report you or they will not have anything to do with you. So if we expect these agencies like NAFDAC to go to every single factory for every single point where these fake drugs are being produced, we are just having a wishful thinking,”he said