By Ijendu Iheaka
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Abia Chapter has called for the establishment of drug supply and distribution control facilities in the country to check proliferation of fake drugs.
The NMA Chairman, Dr Isaiah Abali, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Aba on Saturday.
NAN reports that the UN through the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2019 declared Sept.17 of every year as “Patients Safety Day” to create awareness and enhance efforts toward the safety of patients worldwide.
Abali said the theme of the WHO 2022 World Patient Safety Day is: “Medication Safety” and slogan “Medication Without Harm”, was apt in Nigeria’s current situation.
He said that the state in particular and the country in general needed stricter supply and distribution controls to check the proliferation of fake drugs.
“A lot of fake drugs are stocked around Nigerian markets now and because fake drugs do not contain much of the active ingredients they are not as efficacious as the original drugs.
“Such drugs can cause loss of lives and money, therefore, this calls for a stricter control of the drug supply and distribution system in Nigeria.
“For me, I try to reach the contacts of the drug companies to ensure we get the original drugs, but I cannot vouch for other medical doctors on this issue.
“With supplies directly from drug companies, I record low report of poor efficacy of drugs and that is what doctors should do to reduce the levels of fake drugs patronage,” he said.
The chairman noted that control facilities were needed to curb fake drugs because large quantities of fake drugs abound in the open markets.
He said that hospitals should refund patients on National Health Insurance Scheme who are made to buy drugs covered by the scheme outside the hospital for obvious reasons.
According to him, Nigeria has the most beautiful set of laws but it is regrettable that its laws lack the right force of implementation to make them useful.
“The laws against fake drug sellers may be there but you can see that offenders of such laws are never punished.
“And if the offenders are either caught and released before prosecution and punishment, this will encourage more offenders”, he said.
The chairman called on the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to improve its operations to ensure Nigerians receive safe drugs.
He also urged individuals who purchase drugs they later find to be without a NAFDAC registration number to immediately contact the agency to curb drug fakery.
“We need the special cooperation of drug traders’ unions in the fight against fake drugs in order to keep patients safe”, he said.
Abali urged every citizen to support healthcare organisations and allied institutions to ensure patients are safe with medications they take.