By Doris Obinna
The National Agency for Food & Drug Administration & Control (NAFDAC) has warned the public not to purchase cereal or other products that have been removed from their primary packaging so as not to jeopardize their health.
Speaking on the seizure of fake medicines, injections and unwholesome food products in Lagos, the Director General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, said, the agency is particularly pained because infants and children are the target and the ultimate victims of such wicked and evil activities.
Adeyeye, who disclosed that officers of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate of NAFDAC and the Federal Task Force on Counterfeit and Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods raided two warehouses at the TradeFair Complex in Lagos, added that multiple cartons of banned drugs including 10 cartons of Tafradol (Tramadol 225mg) were also found.
According to her, “any strength above 100mg not registered is banned due to its deleterious effects on vital organs of the body such as the central nervous system and the brain.
“Furthermore, 1,200 cartons of banned Analgin Injection (2.5g/5ml), 2,200 cartons of banned Codeine in Syrup, suspected fake 500 cartons of Azmal; Artemeter Injection, 534 cartons plus 300 packets of Biomal: Artesunate Injection, 188 cartons of Hydra and Black Cobra (silderzafil citrate 200mg), 198 cartons of Super Artesunate Injection among others, were discovered and evacuated.”
She said: “The banned and falsified drugs in the warehouses owned by one Mr Chuka Akajiobi (a.k.a Akumia), who is still at large, is estimated to be worth over three billion naira (N3,000,000,000). Over 20 truckloads of the offensive products were evacuated from the two locations. The products were stored at temperatures above 40oc which ordinarily would denature some of the active ingredients and the excipients.
“Just last week Wednesday, (November 10, 2021), the Agency arraigned one Mr. Afemefuna Udensi of Phini Pharms Limited, Onitsha, at the Federal High Court, Lagos for importing fake Tramadol. The defendant imported a fake version of the registered brand. Investigation also revealed that the fake drugs were imported from China.
“The agency has also observed that some fake and counterfeit products are brought into the country through a system known as ‘Groupage.’ This is a system where more than two persons load containers with different items from the country of origin. “It is collectively cleared and distributed to the owners of the items. This system aids and abets counterfeiting. The agency has found that controlled, banned, and unregistered Regulated Products are usually concealed and brought into the country through this arrangement.”
Adeyeye reiterated that in order to deal with the incidence of Food Fraud, the Agency is carrying out raid operations with tremendous success already recorded in the area of forfeiture of unwholesome processed cereals, beverages, and dairy products.
“In the nationwide raid which commenced in July 2021, seven trucks conveying 4,578 cartons of various unlabeled, transparent nylon packed cereals worth over 60 million naira (N60, 000,000) were confiscated by the Agency. The sources of these various falsely packed cereals and dairy products cannot be verified and therefore NAFDAC cannot guarantee the safety of the products for consumption.”
Warning the public to desist from buying cereal or other products that have been removed from their primary packaging so as not to jeopardize their health, Adeyeye said, “during one of our operations, a suspect declared that the CocoPops, CornFlakes and Oats being displayed for sale in transparent nylons were sourced from Lagos Waste Management Authorithy (LAWMA) waste disposal trucks before repackaging into transparent nylons.
“The agency has also commenced the raids of markets and supermarkets with the aim of mopping up unregistered NAFDAC products. This is in response to credible intelligence indicating that importers are smuggling into the country unregistered Regulated Products during this festive period. Consumers are hereby enjoined to ‘shine their eyes’ when making purchases of products and should not patronize roadside and street vendors.
“We solicit the cooperation of the public, corporate bodies, religious leaders, traditional rulers, health practitioners, gentlemen of the press and all stakeholders in our effort to rid the nation of fake and unwholesome products. The counterfeiters are not spirit, they live among us and flaunt their ill gotten and blood money. To assist us, please report to the nearest NAFDAC office in your neighborhood, town, or city across the country,” Adeyeye stated.