REFLECTION: NAFDAC’S RETURN TO THE PORTS AND INTERCEPTION OF CONTAINERS OF UNREGISTERED AND ILLICIT PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS
By the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof Christianah M. Adeyeye, PhD, FAS
The return of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to the ports and borders in May 2018 after seven years of absence and heightened readiness and alertness of the Agency’s Ports Inspection Directorate have significantly enhanced activities involving the control of importation of drugs, food, chemicals, detergents, cosmetics, and packaged water.
The Agency’s support from the Office of National Security Adviser, engagement with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), support from the Comptroller General and officers of the NCS, plus change in paradigm of the Agency to Customer-focused and Agency-minded have also influenced positively the control at the ports and borders.
Acting on intelligence reports in September 2018 and in collaboration with the NCS, NAFDAC monitored and intercepted 30 containers (between September and November) of unregistered pharmaceutical products that were destined for Nigeria. Prior to this time, 53 containers (in Lagos Ports) and 9 (in Onne, Rivers State) of unregistered pharmaceuticals were intercepted with the support of the Nigeria Customs Service. Of these latter containers, some have been examined while some are still waiting for examination.
The Council and Management of NAFDAC would like to express our appreciation to the Nigeria Customs Service under the dynamic leadership of the Comptroller General, Col. Hammed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd.) for renewed and consistent support and collaboration the Agency continues to receive from the Service. Upon receipt of my letter on the intelligence report about these containers, the CG gave directives that led to the interception of these containers and prevention of release from the ports.
The release of these containers into the country would have wrecked more havoc to our society and the youth in particular. Subsequently, the Nigeria Customs Service called for a joint inspection/examination of the intercepted and blocked containers.
Upon examinations, the detained containers were found to contain tramadol of high strengths and other unregistered medicines. Keeping to its mandate, NAFDAC thereafter seized the containers at the ports for possible evacuation and destruction. It is worth mentioning that one of the containers destined for Nigeria was later diverted to a West African country. However, with the support of the Security Agencies, the container was intercepted and detained.
The return of NAFDAC to the ports and the collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service have paid off with several interceptions. A joint destruction exercise with the NCS will take place in the near future. Further, the collaborations have led to the formation of a Joint Committee of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). This is to further strengthen the existing collaboration with the aim of ensuring that Nigeria is no longer considered a harbor for substandard and falsified medicines and substances of abuse and illicit drugs.
We wish to use this medium to inform the general public that NAFDAC will continue to protect the public health and request that necessary support and information should be provided to the Agency so as to ensure that more of such spurious consignments that have devastating effect on the public are prevented from entering into our country.
The current Management has shown zero tolerance to importation of unregistered, substandard and spurious products and will continue to pursue means to rid the country of such, thus mitigating the deleterious effects on the population, especially the youth. The Agency needs the continued support of the public to provide information that will lead to preventing unregistered and dangerous drugs, food and other products from getting to our society. NAFDAC is Customer focused and Agency minded.
Thank you for your readiness to join hands with NAFDAC at safeguarding the health of the nation.
Prof Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye, PhD, FAS
Director General NAFDAC