‘It’s Tough Combating Fake Drug Dealers’

‘It’s Tough Combating Fake Drug Dealers’

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 12:21 pm

Pharmacist Ali Adamu is the Senior Special Assistant to the Kano State governor on Pharmaceutical Matters and Chairman, Taskforce Committee on the Elimination of Fake, Counterfeit and Expired and Adulterated drugs in the State. He explains to NKRUMAH BANKONG-OBI, the methods used by fake and counterfeit drug barons to carry out their trade

Why did government take the action against people who are not licensed to sell drugs?

Drugs are in the exclusive list of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. so, you can see, it’s a sensitive issue. Drugs are not ordinary commodities. They are specialised commodities because they have direct effect on human life. So, any serious government in place must take this seriously. This taskforce committee had been there. So, when the administration led by Governor Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso came on board, they activated the committee.

This taskforce is formed by the federal government, there is a federal taskforce and then each of 36 states of the federation has a similar taskforce. The difference in operation is dependent on the state government. If the state government is interested in making the taskforce functional, it works. When Governor Kwakwanso came on board, he was fully aware of the taskforce committee because it was there when he was governor between 1999 and 2003. So, he asked the commissioner for Health about the committee. I was called in 2012 to appear before the state executive council to explain how we have been operating. I went there with my team. It was after that encounter that the job started. We told him what we are supposed to do, our challenges. He said he was ready to take care of the challenges. That is why we are here today. The health policy prevents the sale of drugs in six or seven places: open markets like the open market here in Sabon Gari Kano, prohibits the sale of drugs in motor parks, it frowns at the sale of drugs in kiosks, it forbids the sale of drugs in petrol stations, it equally prohibits the sale of drugs in ferries. Unfortunately in Nigeria and Kano state in particular, drugs are sold all over the place. That is why as a taskforce committee we had to sanitise the place.

•Pharmacist Ali Adamu

•Pharmacist Ali Adamu

Are the drugs you confiscate genuine but sold in wrong places or are they fake drugs?

It is a dual function kind of. If you are selling drugs in Sabon Gari market, what we did first was to have series of meeting with the Exco of their association. We told them to follow the rules that govern the sale of drugs in Nigeria and globally. We let them know that there are rules and regulations for drug manufacturing, importation, distribution as well as retailing. Even patent medicine shop must follow set down rules and regulations. Anyone chosen by the practitioner could depend on the person’s interest and the weight of his pocket

If you are not a pharmacist, there are situations where there must be a pharmacist. So, as a business man who is not a pharmacist, you must employ a pharmacist to run your business. You must follow the rules. These are the things we told them. But they remained recalcitrant. So, we had to flush them out of the market. Happily, some of them complied, that is why you find them along some streets here. We gave them a dateline to come out of the market or face whatever consequence.

The other aspect of the practice is that we discovered that Mohammed Abubakar Rimi market in Sabon Gari is the haven for the sale of fake drugs, expired medicines that are re-labelled, adulterated and counterfeit drugs. We confiscated so many drugs. Let me give you one example; there was a time we were given a tipoff in 2012 that in a village in Ungogo Local Government Area, a house was hired by some miscreant element who went and dug a well and they brought empty tubes of this water for injection which you and I use as water for injection. They filled these sachets with that well water.

You have listed some sicknesses that could result from taking counterfeit and banned drugs. Are these diseases on the rise here in Kano?

We don’t have data to show. But from our discussions with doctors there are indications that such illnesses are on the rise.

What is the number of raids and seizures that your agency has carried out?

I cannot precisely tell you the number of raids here. We have big, medium and small raids. But for the big ones, here are some: in 2012 we raided a warehouse at IBB Way behind Radio Kano where drugs close to 600million naira were discovered. Close to that place in 2013 adjacent Radio Kano another warehouse was discovered and drugs worth over 300million naira were discovered, evacuated and subsequently destroyed. Along Ibrahim Taiwo Road, we discovered another warehouse in December 2013 the drugs there were worth about 30million at that time. The same year, opposite Akija Hotel over 30million naira worth of drugs were discovered.

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