Saturday, 18 October 2014

Drug cloning: Nafdac smashes syndicate in Lagos

By: Chioma Umeha

A syndicate which specialises in cloning several fast moving drug products including locally manufactured anti-malaria and pain-relieving medicines has been smashed in Lagos, by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). The syndicate is said to have perfected its cloning act in China and thereafter imports the cloned drugs into the country.

A member of the syndicate, Mr. Maduabuchi Abuzu, who owns a shop at 21 Ashogbon street, Idumota, Lagos, and has been under NAFDAC’s watch list of fake drug importers since two years, has been arrested, while the agency has began investigations to unravel his China- based partners.
According to sources close to NAFDAC, the agency is determined to take advantage of its collaboration with Chinese government in the fight against fake drugs to ensure that when investigation is concluded in the country and it establishes the culpability of its citizens in the shoddy business, that they will be punished according to their drug counterfeiting laws.
Paul Ohii  NAFDAC DG

Confirming the arrest of the syndicate, the Director of  Enforcement in NAFDAC, Mr. Garba Macdonald in a chat with journalists, in his office in Apapa, Lagos, hinted that Mr. Abuzu was arrested in his house at N0.9 Alhaja Hassana Street, Orile Iganmu with various fake drug products worth over N20 million.
According to Macdonald, “The arrest of Maduabuchi was a major breakthrough in the fight to stem the activities of the syndicate who had in the last two years brought into the country fake drugs with his partners in China”.

He revealed that the suspect had already confessed to have imported the drugs from China through his contacts there and that through intelligence gathering, it was established that the suspect used his house as a warehouse where the cloned drugs were stored. Some of the drugs discovered in his possession at the time of arrest include; Coartem tablets, Amalar tablets, some unlabelled tablets, Maloxine tablets, Ibuprofen tablets, packaging materials, leaflets and  hand sealing machines, among others.

Meanwhile, Maduabuchi is currently assisting the Agency in its investigation to get to the root of the matter just as the fake drugs had been evacuated from his house, sampled against him for laboratory analysis.
The Director who reiterated the agency’s determination to rid the country of fake and unwholesome drugs, called on all Nigerians to report any suspicious activity relating to NAFDAC regulated products around their community for immediate action.

An official of one of the companies whose products were faked who spoke in anonymity lauded NAFDAC for the arrest, which he said, will send a strong signal to the likes of Maduabuchi still at large.
He however decried the activities of the syndicate, saying they were capable of putting government’s initiative of encouraging local production of essentials drugs into jeopardy.

This story was published in Daily Newswatch on April 13, 2013

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