Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: 'War Against Counterfeit Medicine - My Story'

analysis

Many Nigerians have been subjected to untimely death due to consumption of counterfeit drugs which many at times, are administered by quack doctors and even some health professionals who can hardly differenciate between geniune and fake drugs. CHIKA OKEKE writes that the book, War Against Counterfeit Medicine: My Story reveals some of the many challenges posed by fake drugs.

The 434 book page comes with a hard cover and a picture that portrays counterfeit drugs as being dangerous for both human and animal consumption. It was first published in 2010 by Safari Books limited, Onireke Ibadan.

The War Against Counterfeit Medicine: My Story is a must read not only by food and drug regulators but also by the general public who are keen about their health and implications of consuming counterfeit drugs.

It also revealed some major manufacturing companies that were blacklisted in different years due to their involvement in the production of counterfeit drugs and how to identify genuine and fake drugs.

Book Is Unique Study of Global Phenomenon

The director general, World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Francis Gurry described the book as a unique study of a global phenomenon, saying that the fight against counterfeit drugs was borne out of the author's commitment to ensure the safety of consumers.

"The book is a unique study of global phenomenon in which law breaking and profiteering prevail at the cost of human health and life but the author's experiences are a message of hope, testimony to the commitment and courage of individuals who serve the institutions as well as ensure that commercial profitability goes hand in hand with the safety and well being of consumers.

Gurry who wrote the foreword said, "Counterfeiters have been quick to exploit the speed, convenience and anonymity of the internet as a medium for expanding the sale of fake drugs. The author's commitment to the fight against fake drugs was deeply rooted in her personal experience because her sister who was diabetic died after being treated with fake insulin.

... Will Improve Countries Food Regulatory Environment

The author of the book, Dr. Dora Akunyili said that she was moved to write the book due to her experiences in the fight against fake drugs hoping that it would help countries in improving on their food regulatory environment.

"I felt a compelling need to write the book for two reasons: firstly, to document what my team and I did in over seven and a half years in the fight to protect the public from the fatal consequences of fake medicines and unwholesome food products.

"It is my hope that it will help compel individuals, organisations and governments to recognise the heightened level of the dangers posed by medication counterfeiters and thus, ensure that strategies that have led to our globally recognised achievement over the period were not jettisoned but improved upon.

"Secondly, I believe that the publication will help countries improve on their food and regulatory environments and strategies where they already exist or create new ones where none exists. Considering the facts that drug counterfeiting is an emerging phenomenon, it is understandable that there is no currently clear cut strategy in any literature on how to tackle the menace."

Giving a breakdown on the statics of fake drugs, she stressed, "Counterfeiting is not a new phenomenon. It is fast growing while the effects are rather alarming because data showed that 5-7 % of world trade, valued at about US $280 billion was lost to counterfeiting and the problem is increasing yearly.

Brief About The Book

The War Against Counterfeit Medicine: My Story chronicles the ills of fake or counterfeit medicines, substandard food, cosmetics and other related products. It highlights the experience of Dora Akunyili as the then Director general of National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on how she waged war against the hydra-headed monster, with the aim of safeguarding the lives of Nigerians.

The books also exposed the harrowing fright of sustained intimidations and threats that culminated in a failed assassination attempt of the author. The result was a tremendous drop in the level of counterfeit drugs, substandard food, cosmetics and related products in Nigeria and indeed, the West African sub- region.

It is also a tool for public awareness which aims at sensitizing individuals, organisations and governments all over the world to recognise the dangers posed by counterfeit medicine thereby encouraging the establishment of an international coalition in the war against counterfeit medicine.

...and The Author

Prof Dora Nkem Akunyili was the former Director General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Minister of Information and Communications. She doubles as a pharmacist, seasoned administrator, motivational speaker and politician having gained international recognition for her work in pharmacology, public health and human rights.

She was a Senior Lecturer and Consultant Pharmacologist in the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Nsukka (U.N.N.), Enugu Campus, before she was appointed the helmsman of NAFDAC on April 12, 2001.

Akunyili ventured into politics after her resignation as the minister of information and Communication. There, she contested for the Anambra Central senatorial seat on the platform of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in April 2011 but was defeated by Chris Ngige of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

Born in Makurdi, Benue State on the July 14, 1954, to the family of Chief and Mrs. Paul Young Edemobi, she is a devout Catholic and happily married to Dr. J.C. Akunyili, a medical practitioner from Nanka in Anambra State. They are blessed with six children and grandchildren.

She has written 18 Journal Articles and authored another book, titled, Bankers' role in the NAFDAC war.

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