Bad drugs are of growing serious concern to public health, and what fuels it most is microbial contamination and its consequences. The ubiquity, diversity, and activities of microbes are extraordinary. When microbes colonise anything, it tantamount to a declaration of war as exaggerated by COVID-19 pandemic. Microbial hegemony therefore provokes spoilage, disease and death. This presentation underscores microbial dominance and their intrigues to subvert good drug quality.
Microbial biopolitics is intended to intimidate, contaminate, dominate and destroy. The target is to inflict all-out damage through biodegradation, infection and death using their families and tribes. Humankind only protection is intrinsic in infallibility, science and upholding the laws of ethical hygiene. To ensure long life anything that goes into the body should not defile it and should be free of harmful microbes. Above all, good quality water, food, drugs and environment and mind are necessary mix for healthy long life.
Microbes in Drug Manufacturing
Irrespective of their notoriety microbes have helped to advance human civilisation in diverse ways as raw materials for drugs, probiotics, antibiotics and vaccines. Vaccine production in Nigeria and indeed other drugs is for our own national security, survival and good health.
But they are hardly available or in short supply. Even the water-based products or drinks should be well processed, protected and stored. Water serves as a potent nutrient for microbial growth and should be well purified and handled. The poor state of drug production facilities and unhygienic practices are the bane of product contamination. Our health priority as a nation should be overhauled and righted. But then Pharmacists must make the bold move to manufacture drugs.
Consequences of Microbial Contamination
Microbial contamination and survival in drug and food products is widespread with consequences in product degradation, spoilage and possible infection hazards. Sterile drugs e.g. injections, infusion fluids, and non-sterile ones e.g. tablets, or syrups have all been reported to be very susceptible including those available in drug outlets. Dextrose content in infusion solutions, or added antibiotics have been found to be degraded by ordinary microbes and enzyme producers.
Multivitamin preparations have been found to be more prone to microbial contamination and degradation even at a microbial content specified to be safe. This observation in particular warrants a review of its pharmacopoeial standards. The higher rate of degradation of drug ingredients in many formulations by microorganisms requires explicit quality assurance and controls within the factory and quality adherence outside the factory.
Controls of Microbial Hegemony
Drugs must be manufactured based on Good Manufacturing Practice and quality assurance regimes. Applying total microbiological controls will protect them from microbial hegemony. In addition, drug quality compact guidelines are intended to safeguard the quality of drug products passing through production-use channels-the factories, pharmacies, patent medicine stores, hospitals, home.
However, open drug markets, unregistered drug outlets, drug criminals continue to serve as the cesspool of fake, adulterated and spurious drugs. They must be eliminated to give sanity to quality drug distribution.
Fighting microbial hegemony and indeed bad drugs requires tact, discipline, focus and devotion; but most importantly ethical courage. Everyone must be involved. Without which good quality drugs will be impossible; and our lifespan will be cut short. Bad drugs incapacitate or kill. Let us strife to put the drug house in order.
Extracted from Professor Udoma Mendie’s Inaugural lecture delivered on 19 May, 2021 at J.F.Ade-Ajayi Auditorium, University of Lagos, UNILAG.
UDOMA EKANEM MENDIE, is a professor of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Microbiology
(Quality analyst & consultant) UNILAG