The federal government has promised to intensify its war against the manufacture or importation and distribution of fake drugs in Nigeria.
Minister for health, Prof Isaac Adewole on Saturday, while paying a visit to the site of a Pharmaceutical Coordinated Wholesale Centre under construction at Oba in Anambra state, said government would put an end to the sale of drugs in open markets by the end of 2018.
In 2016, the health ministry in collaboration with its agencies, the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) initiated steps to end the operation of open drug markets and establish coordinated wholesale centres in specialised areas for effective regulation of drug distribution in the country.
The move to centralise drug distribution is likely to receive commendation from many citizens who may be better assured of the quality of drugs purchased from pharmacies upon the enforcement of the new control measures.
The federal government in October 2016 announced July 31, 2017 as deadline for an end to the sale of drugs in open markets but has recently extended the deadline to December 2018 following appeals from traders in the affected markets.
Prof Adewole has however warned that the extension of the deadline is no indication that the government had no plans to enforce the ban.
“Maybe people still believe that the federal government is joking, government does not joke,” Adewole said.
“We do not want fake drugs or falsified labels. We just want genuine drugs and the only way to do so is centralizing the drug market so that we can determine what comes in and what goes out,” he added.
Prof Adewole was also quoted by The Nation to have told drug traders in Anambra state that those who failed to take up stalls at the coordinated centre would not be allowed to sell drugs in any other part of the state from January 1, 2019.
The World Health Organisation in 2016 stated that over 120,000 Africans including Nigerians died from the consumption of fake anti-malaria drugs alone. It is hoped that the new regulatory measures can significantly help address the menace.