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(Last Updated On: June 16, 2018)

Nigerian texters to take on the drug counterfeiters

Will Ross of BBC’s article online titled “Nigerian texters to take on the drug counterfeiters” caught my attention and I was compelled to quickly respond to save readers from the misinformation, falsehood and junk dished out by the Reporter. Ross’ write-up was supposedly based on interviews conducted with some stakeholders within the pharmaceutical industry, especially the incumbent Director General of NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii and his predecessor, Professor Dora Akunyili.

A careful reading of the article portrayed a confused hatchet writer so much in a hurry to reach preconceived conclusion without being mindful of facts, figures, order, depth and balance in the report – core values that detract from the cherished reputation of the BBC.

When attention of the writer was drawn to the fact that some basic verifiable facts and information obtained from interview with the NAFDAC Boss were not reflected, the gross omission was merely blamed on faulty recording equipment. I think the correct thing to do was for Ross to go back to Dr. Orhii to obtain some information to give currency and balance to the story, but the Reporter decided to rehash outdated 2008 statistics on prevalence of counterfeit drugs gleaned from press interview granted by Professor Akunyili longtime ago.

The Director-General of World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan recently disclosed that the Quality of Anti-Malaria Medicines in Sub-Saharan Africa (QAMSA) study in 2011 revealed a drastic reduction in counterfeit medicines in circulation in the region including Nigeria, to 20 percent. There is a strong correlation between this recent WHO result and 19.6 percent obtained from a nationwide survey of counterfeit medicines in circulation conducted by NAFDAC in 2012. A similar study by WHO in 2008 had put the figure of counterfeit anti-malaria medicines in Sub-Saharan Africa at 64 percent.

Ross chose to ignore this well publicized fact by WHO but mischievously stuck to an outdated statistics to cleverly rubbish successes so far recorded by the Agency in the fight against drug counterfeiting.

In the story, no credit was given to NAFDAC for introducing anti-counterfeiting cutting-edge technologies such as TRUSCAN and deep Infra-Red. Even the mention of the Scratch and Text technology (Text Message System) in the article was half-hearted as no mention was made of Sproxil, a U.S based company who pioneered the technology in Nigeria and also Pharma Secure noted to be the leading anti-counterfeiting technology provider in India.

It beats my imagination that a BBC reporter whose journalistic skill is expected to be above board could put such shameful and unprofessional stuff for the world to read.

Ja’afar Ibrahim wrote from the Public Relation and Protocol Unit of NAFDAC

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