NAFDAC has upgraded four test laboratories to international standards to boost the quality of products emanating from Nigeria, according to Mrs. Josephine Dayilim, its Zonal Coordinator in the North-Central.
“We have upgraded four test laboratories to international standards to build appropriate capacity to produce drugs and foods that meet global standards so as to reduce dependence on imports,” Dayilim said on Monday in Jos.
Dayilim spoke at a one-day stakeholders meeting with owners of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) on “The Ease of Doing Business In Nigeria”.
She said two of the laboratories were located in Yaba and Oshodi in Lagos, while the other two were at Agulu in Anambra, and Kaduna. “The laboratories have been certified to be among the best in the world after being accredited by United States Pharmacopeil Convention (USP),” she said.
She said NAFDAC was working toward making MSMEs more viable in view of their vital role as a major non-oil revenue earner, adding that bottlenecks were being addressed to ease registration and operations.
Dayilim said the agency was reviewing the laws against counterfeit drugs and food producers to deter manufacturers of such fake goods. “The current law stipulates N500,000 fine or 15 years imprisonment upon conviction, but we are seeking a life term jail and confiscation of assets upon conviction.
“We are also seeking compensation for victims of counterfeit products. We also want counterfeiting to be made a non-bailable offence.We have also proposed a whistle blower clause to ease the process of tracking down counterfeiters,” she added.
The Coordinator said NAFDAC had steadily reduced the incidence of counterfeiting of anti-malarial drugs from 40 per cent in 2001 to 16 per cent in 2005, and further down to 6.4 per cent and 3.6 per cent in 2012 and 2015.
Dayilim warned MSMEs owners against the temptation to engage in sharp practises or cut corners to maximise profit.“You should strive to ensure strict adherence to NAFDAC regulations and guidelines so as to produce quality products and safeguard public health,” she said,
She further advised them to ensure that all drugs, processed food, cosmetics, drinks, medical devices and packaged water were registered with NAFDAC, and warned against tampering with expiry dates.
Dayilim disclosed that packaged sachet water was fit for consumption within just two months, and warned producers against selling expired “pure water”.
She also warned members of the public against buying medicines from street hawkers, saying that drugs were only certified for consumption if handled by a professional and stored in required temperatures.
“Even genuine drugs become toxic and harmful if exposed to the sun as is being done by street hawkers,” she pointed out.
The Coordinator advised members of the public to report any suspicious activities of factories and warehouses where counterfeit drugs were being produced or stored.
Dayilim advised breast feeding mothers to shun deceitful adverts or free gifts of baby milk that encourage the use of breast milk substitutes, and urged them to breastfeed their babies as long as they could.
The NAFDAC official advised members of the public to store their crops properly so as to minimise the growth of fungi which could produce mycotoxins.