National chairman of the Association of Industrial Pharmacists (NAIP), Pharm. (Prince) Gbenga Falabi, has said that anybody found guilty of involvement in drug counterfeiting should be jailed for life.
The According to the NAIP boss, the present sanction of a fine of 200,000 naira or a six-month jail term for convicted drug fakers is grossly inadequate and cannot serve as deterrents to those involved in the nefarious business.
Pharm. Falabi was speaking with Pharmanews in an interview during the 18th Annual National Conference of NAIP, held at Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Ikeja, Lagos, recently.
The memorable conference chaired by Dr ABC Orjiakor, Chairman, Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc, who was represented by Pharm. Emmanuel Ekunno, MD/CEO of the company was also graced by Dr Paul Orhii, DG, NAFDAC; Pharm. Azubike Okwor, former PSN president; Pharm. (Chief) Bunmi Olaopa, president, WAPMA; Mr Eidickle Muyon from the FIP and Pharm. (Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi, MD, Pharmanews.
Pharm. Falabi said NAIP wants the National Assembly to change the penalty for drug fakers to life imprisonment because those involved in dealing in fake drugs resulting in deaths of Nigerians should not have any opportunity to walk away.
He reiterated the determination of NAIP to push for an industry and civil society led anti-counterfeiting war on fake drugs, adding that NAIP is initiating the establishment of an intervention fund that will be used to assist the agencies saddled with the responsibilities of fighting drug counterfeiting in Nigeria.
Pharm. Falabi explained that it is very important to raise awareness on fake drugs because ensuring patients get genuine drugs for treatment is very crucial in the treatment chain. He said that while the hospital may be good, the diagnosis right and the doctor’s prescription correct, with the challenge of fake drugs, all the other efforts made to help the patient will be a waste.
The NAIP boss also said that the pharmaceutical industry has great expectations from current government in Nigeria because the Buhari government has shown that it takes what affects Nigerians as a priority, adding that the pharma industry, being an essential sub-sector of the health sector, will get the support and encouragement it required to back up its investments.
Speaking on the theme of the conference “Transforming the Nigerian Pharmaceutical Industry: The Big Picture”, Mr Bismarck Rewane, MD/CEO, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, said that the local pharmaceutical manufacturers are faced with challenges of high cost of production, counterfeit drugs/parallel importation, low purchasing power within the population, poor health care infrastructure, irregular government purchase of drugs and delayed payments, as well as weak enforcement of policies.
On growth options for the industry, Mr Rewane who was the keynote speaker at the NAIP conference urged the stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry to explore the possibility of development and local manufacture of pharmaceutical grade raw materials, as well as pooling of resources to increase their market share through partnership, mergers and acquisitions.
Rewane noted that the growth of the pharmaceutical industry would have a trickle-down effect on the Nigerian economy by helping to create more employment opportunities, reduce expenses on health care abroad, and help improve the life expectancy of Nigerians.
The highlight of the occasion was the presentation of awards to some distinguished pharmacists for their contributions to the pharmaceutical sector.