Nigerian Counterfeit Drug Clampdown Criticised
Action by Nigerian food and drug regulator NAFDAC to curtail the country's rampant counterfeit drug industry has attracted harsh criticism, amid claims that the moves will halt sales of therapeutically effective generic drugs.
NAFDAC has released a list of 12 Indian and Pakistani drug firms that will be subjected to an import ban, and the products are likely to be withdrawn from co-operating pharmacies. However, the ban is likely to be unwieldy and ineffectively enforced, as 50 local companies accounting for 70% of Nigeria's drug sales are engaged in the import trade. Further, as quasi-illicit copy products account for 85% of the market, even successful action by authorities is likely to have a minimal effect on local industry practices.
The action could also be construed as somewhat embarrassing for NAFDAC, as many of the products to be withdrawn already carry the agency's approval markings supposedly granted only after clinical tests have been carried out. Safety reports now appear to have identified serious shortcomings in the approvals process.
Indeed, criticism of the Nigerian health authorities' handling of the drug
industry is nothing new. Multinationals generally avoid the market, and the
government has recently been condemned by HIV/AIDS groups for continuing to
distribute antiretroviral (ARV) drugs that have been withdrawn from the World
Health Organisation's essential drugs list on safety grounds.