NATIONAL Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Director-General, Dr. Paul Orhii, Tuesday lamented that “some unscrupulous businessmen have turned the country into a dumping ground by bringing in all sorts of products including expired hand sanitisers.”
Speaking at a press briefing on NAFDAC’s activities, he said: “You are quite aware that in the last couple of weeks, the public has been subjected to psychological trauma as a result of the unfortunate incidence of the Ebola Virus Disease epidemic.
“It is however, heartwarming that as a result of the exemplary and pragmatic leadership of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan through the Honorable Minister of Health, the Ebola Virus Disease has been successfully contained, to the admiration of the global community and the world press.
“Therefore, having overcome these initial challenges there is the need to continue to follow the necessary guidelines to stop the transmission of the deadly disease. The key steps include hand washing with soap and /or detergent, and the use of hand sanitizers in addition to personal hygiene and good environmental health practices.
“However, it is worrisome to observe that some unscrupulous businessmen have turned the country into a dumping ground by bringing in all sorts of products including expired hand sanitisers.
“Consequently, NAFDAC officers at all entry points, the Seaports, Airports and the Land borders have been put on the alert to check this ugly trend. So far, we have quarantined one hundred and four (104) brands that were illegally imported into the country without certification by NAFDAC.”
The NAFDAC boss said the “most troubling is the case of an Onitsha trader (names withheld) “who imported expired brands of hand sanitisers through NAHCO, Lagos.”
Product Expiry date
Soft care Natural29/12/2012 Soft care Lemon29/12/2012 Soft care Lavender29/12/2012 Soft care Apple 29/12/2012
Orhii went on: “These products expired two years ago, but yet found their way into the country. Thus, as a competent and responsible agency NAFDAC has put in place a screening procedure to fast track the evaluation of all the imported hand sanitizers using the TRUSCAN so that the products which do not meet standards of quality and efficacy are not released into the market. “This is necessary to protect the public from the deleterious effect of fake, unregistered and adulterated hand sanitizers.
“In a related but more serious development, the Agency recently detected the sale of unevaluated and untested ‘Rapid Response Ebola Virus Test Kits’ which were being aggressively marketed” by another trader (name withheld).
“The suspect was trailed to his hideout in a hotel and was arrested while trying to sell the product to an officer. Upon interrogation, he claimed that an engineer (name withheld) supplied him the Kits which he claimed were imported from Canada.
“Consequently, the engineer was arrested and he confessed to have imported the Kits from Canada. Interestingly, one of the businessmen was already making contact with a company in China with a view to counterfeiting the ‘Fake Ebola Rapid Diagnostic Cassette Test Kit.’
“The danger associated with use of substandard hand sanitizers and untested Ebola Test Kits is indeed grave and could derail all efforts put in place to contain the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease in the country.
“We have therefore directed the immediate mop-up of all such unregistered/fake products and the prosecution of offenders in order to protect and promote public health.”
The statement added: “The general public is hereby advised not to patronize such unregistered/fake test kits and to report any suspected cases of fake and unregistered regulated products to the nearest NAFDAC office.
“But even more dangerous is the pronouncement of some medical and pharmaceutical professors in these precarious times.
“When a scientist discovers a remedy for a disease, the right thing to do is to publish the results in a medium other scientists respect, and not rush to the press.
“One of the consequences of these unsupported and possibly fraudulent claims is that people may be misled into a false sense of invincibility on account of eating ‘Ewedu’ or Bitter Kola and drop their guards. This is a national embarrassment and the agency will not take such uncorroborated claims by supposedly learned people lightly.
“I therefore urge the media to continue to support our national efforts to contain the spread of Ebola Virus Disease by publishing information that is the product of evidence-based medical research and which has been verified by the agency.”
Source: NGR Guardian News (ngrguardiannews.com)