The main auditorium of the National Agency for Food and Drug, Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Laboratories Complex, Oshodi, was filled to capacity with key stakeholders on Thursday, as they converged to witness the formal presentation of the drafted guidelines on Mobile Authentication Service (MAS) as well as to discuss improved methods of using the MAS scheme to the benefit of all.
Addressing the audience, Prof. Adeyeye stated that MAS was introduced into the country eight years ago, precisely on 2 February 2010, by NAFDAC as a means of tackling the menace of substandard and falsified medicines in Nigeria.
She noted that the MAS scheme provided a platform to empower over 167 million subscribers on the Nigerian Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) to verify the genuineness of the antimalarials, antibiotics and other medicines currently on the scheme.
While the pilot phase of MAS, which was conducted by Sproxil was a success, the NAFDAC DG said other service providers like M-pedigree, UBQ-t, PharmaSecure and Savante Consulting, came on board in the provision of the MAS scheme for the Nigerian populace.
Prof. Adeyeye further noted that although the MAS scheme was a veritable anti-counterfeit tool in the hands of the consumers, which bestowed the direct power of detecting substandard and falsified medicines into the hands of the consumers, it was however fraught with some challenges in the process of implementation.
Going forward, she said the agency is ready to partner with all stakeholders to improve on the presented guidelines, which she described as the first draft of MAS guidelines, for the maximum benefits of stakeholders and consumers.
“While we are hoping to scale-up the scheme to include more drugs, although not every drug will be included, NAFDAC plans to engage manufacturers, pharmacists, MAS providers, pharmaceutical companies, and other stakeholders in the scaling up process of the drafted guidelines for the best outcomes”, she asserted.
The CHAI Country Director, stressed the importance of technology to national development, saying technology moves rapidly, but regulation catches up slowly with technology, and this is not a good development, because the faster national policies move with technology, the better for that nation.
Expressing the support of CHAI to the MAS guidelines, Fashanu stated her displeasure to the performance of MAS in Nigeria, saying “after eight years of its introduction into the country, MAS is under-performing in Nigeria compared to what obtains in other countries”.
She further condemned that act of glossing over some critical issues relating to drugs, adding that “if we don’t get issues relating to drugs right, it has the power to impoverish the national, especially women and children’s health”.
The CHAI Director however gave the agency her word, noting that they are ready to work with NAFDAC in coordinating the MAS scheme beyond anti-malarials and antibiotics, which it has presently.
In her own contribution, Dr Okoli appreciated the NAFDAC DG for such presentation and the opportunity to discuss matter of common interest in the industry, stating that it is not just enough for people at the helms of affair to form policies, but they must ensure that the policies are doable, straight forward, for the benefits of all.
She however expressed the concern of manufacturers regarding the scheme, saying it is a levy to place manufacturers under MAS, adding that those adulterating their drugs have more sophisticated technology than the manufacturers, thus, asked the NAFDAC DG for the way forward on this?
For the newly elected ACPN National Chairman, he said his members are willing to work with the MAS scheme, provided NAFDAC and MAS providers are ready to rectify the anomalies encountered so far with the scheme.
“There is need for providers to educate consumers further on what to do, when the desirable information is not displayed. We need to engage the patients in counselling and that is where the issue of trust comes in”, he stated.