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18% of Nigerians are victims of fake drugs


LATEST snap poll results released by NOIPolls Limited Tuesday have revealed that 18 percent of Nigerians have personally been victims of fake, counterfeit and substandard pharmaceutical products, medicines and drugs; and of those that have been victims, “Independent pharmacy/chemist” (68 percent) and “drug hawkers” (14 percent) have been identified as the two main points of purchase of fake drugs/medicines in Nigeria.

   While these figures represent the perceptions of Nigerians, pharmaceutical experts’ suggest that many Nigerians may not be aware they have been victims of fake pharmaceutical products, especially in the absence of obvious negative effects.

   The poll results further indicated that the effects of fake drugs can be experienced in various dimensions depending on the ingredients that make up the counterfeit drugs thus leading to clues for the identification of fake drugs by users. 

   For instance, about one-third (35 percent) of the respondents who have been victims were only able to identify that the drugs were fake when there was ‘no improvement in health at the completion of dosage’, followed by 29 percent who cited ‘adverse reaction’. 

   More findings from the poll revealed that about one-third (33 percent) of respondents who have been victims ‘took no action’; however 32 percent claimed they ‘discarded/destroyed the drugs’ upon realising they were fake.

   Finally, as Nigerians recognise the prevalence of fake drugs in the country, several suggestions have also been proffered to combat the sale of fake, counterfeit and substandard drugs, which include – the ‘shutting down of any outlet identified for selling fake drugs’ (29 percent); ‘arrest and prosecution of offenders’ (15 percent); and the enforcement of ‘drug authentication’ (10 percent) among others. 

   While these suggestions are not entirely new in the battle against the sale and distribution of fake drugs by NAFDAC, it is imperative that the agency and other stakeholders intensify efforts in the regulation and control of the importation, manufacture, distribution and sale of drugs in order to ensure the availability of safe and quality pharmaceutical products, medicines and drugs to Nigerian citizens.

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