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Fake drugs: An albatross to healthy living

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Sir: A medical doctor who is a consultant surgeon performed surgical operation and immediately recommended an anti-biotic tablet that will safeguard the patient from opportunistic infections and fast-track the healing. But incidentally, the doctor observed that the condition of the patient is deteriorating instead of improving. The doctor became apprehensive about the failing health of his patient, he was suspicious of the authenticity of the drug, and decided to open the capsule, only to find that it was filled with ashes. No doubt, the patient was a victim of fake and adulterated drug. The prevalence of fake adulterated and sub-standard constitutes of one of the greatest evil of our time and the highest form of terrorism against public health as well as an act of economic sabotage.

It is disheartening to observe that the business of fake drugs is a worldwide lucrative crime. Indeed, it poses public health hazard to the masses which can lead to poisoning of human cells and untimely death. What is the essence of expending on drugs that is hazardous to human health? The therapeutic failure and drug resistance is a major challenge for health-care providers in Nigeria. There is urgent need for government to intensify efforts on enlightenment campaign to sensitize the citizenry about the harmful effect of taking fake and adulterated drugs. The proliferation of unapproved patent medicine stores and quacks operating especially in the rural areas calls for the intervention of regulatory agencies

What then are the steps that should be taken to minimize the spread of fake and adulterated drugs in our pharmaceutical shops? There is need for more proactive approach on part of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the entire international community in addressing the issue of counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals. This is achievable through seminars, public lectures and international convention against counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals just as we have for narcotics and psychotropic substances. Also, sprinted efforts must be made to harmonize regulation of pharmaceutical products. It behoves on the Federal Government to enact laws on drug counterfeiting and severe penalties on the peddlers of the substandard, fake and adulterated drugs. The fight to eradicate counterfeit drugs should be treated as an International Health Emergency Programme considering the fact that the challenge cut across the world. If this crime is holistically tackled around the world, it will go a long way to nip it in the bud.

Be it as it may, the healthcare providers are also advised to procure their drugs from reputable and credible sources. Not only this, our financial institutions and banks also need to collaborate with drugs regulators to ensure that fake drug dealers do not process their financial import documents through them. It is the responsibility of all the stakeholders which includes pharmaceutical industries, pharmacist, pharmacologist, approved patent medicine sellers, distributors, and regulatory agencies among others to see that Nigeria is free from drug counterfeiting.

Ajibike Babatunde.


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