Nigeria: The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has foiled an attempt to import into the country a consignment of fake and adulterated antimalarial drugs Maloxine and Amalar tablets with an estimated street value of N32.1 million.
Officials of the agency, working on a tip-off, intercepted the container load of the fake drugs as it was about to be cleared at the Phase IV Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, Lagos, on Wednesday May 20, 2009.
Director General, NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii, said the interception of the fake drugs may have saved hundreds of thousands of Nigerians from possible effects such as treatment failure, drug resistance, complications like anaemia and death had the drugs been circulated into the open market.
Orhii, who spoke in Lagos yesterday, added that a clearing agent who was trying to clear the consignment had been arrested while the case is currently being investigated by the agency.
He said the agency swung into action immediately it obtained a text message on the evening of the day from an informant that a company with an address at Tejuosho Street, Yaba, Lagos, imported a container load (1 x 20FT) of Maloxine tablet but was declared as seal tape (cellotape).
"Within 24hours, NAFDAC located the said container with number PCIU 2184458 at the terminal and a A 100 per cent physical inspection of the content revealed it contained 348,000 tablets of Maloxine in sachets of three tablets each, contained in 6,960 boxes packed in 960 cartons with Batch No: EM-396 and manufacturing and expiring dates 04/2008 and 03/2011 respectively.
It also contained 294,000 sachets of Amalar packed as three tablets each, contained in 5,880 boxes packed in 196 cartons with Batch No: ARTP 0053 and manufacturing and expiring dates of January 2007 and January 2010 respectively."
Orhii was emphatic that although the labels on the products indicated they were manufactured in India, the bill of lading showed the port of loading to be Xingang in China, and the exporter as Heihe Cheng Feng Trading co, Ltd. (Shenzhen Shenghetai Trading Co. Ltd).
Laboratory tests by the agency showed that the fake antimalarials which were produced in China but labelled "Made in India," contained only sulfadioxine and no pyrimethamine.
"The implications of using these fake drugs include treatment failure, drug resistance as the malaria parasite will develop immunity towards these drugs, complications like anaemia and death if no effective drug is given thereafter.
"If these fake drugs were not intercepted by NAFDAC, 642,000 adults will be affected. This figure will go up if children are given half or quarter dose as some parents and guardians sometimes do that," he added.
Calling on all Nigerians to be alert and report any suspected fake drug, unwholesome food and any other substandard regulated product, the NAFDAC boss urged all and sundry to always purchase their drugs from licensed pharmacies and other authorised outlets and to ensure all purchases are receipted.