By: CHIOMA UMEHA
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has began investigations to unveil those behind the importation of 158 cartons of fake Tramadol Capsules, a semi-synthetic opiod analgesic for the management of pain. Announcing the interception of the truck load of the counterfeit medications in Lagos, weekend, NAFDAC’s Director, Ports Inspection Directorate, Mrs. Maureen Ebigbeyi said, the NAFDAC enforcement has commenced investigations to apprehend the persons behind the importation.
Ebigbeyi said the cartons containing the Tramadol Capsules 120mg, have no label. Neither do they have addresses to show name of the producing company and the country of manufacture. However, with intelligence works and investigations, she said NAFDAC enforcement will definitely get the importers of these products. The drugs, which are in high demand and often abused when taken at overdose level to keep alert, were brought in as transit products to the Republic of Benin, but ended up being intercepted when NAFDAC detectives observed that although, the destination country of the drug is the Republic of Benin, a French speaking country, the drugs are labelled in English Language.
According to international law, if a product is going to be used in a particular country, they will be labelled in the language of that country. However, NAFDAC’s Director of Ports Inspection Directorate explained that because these drugs were labelled in English, “it is very certain that as they (the importers) know we are looking out for them, they will just move them to the Republic of Benin and bring them back to Nigeria. That is the reason we have intercepted these drugs.” She explained that when a consignment is on transit to another country, it is not usually allowed to be inspected, but because we know the style of drug counterfeiters, when we see such things, NARCO Shed handlers allow us to come in and take possession of them. “We have been working with NARCO Shed handlers, hence, when we see such things, they allow us to come in and take possession of them,” she explained. Besides, the director noted that normally, Tramadol should be either 50mg or 100mg, depending on the level of pain involved, the intercepted Tramadol is 120mg. What this means for the person that takes the drug is that the fellow will almost be taking an overdose, Ebigbeyi lamented, adding, “With overdose, you have more side effects and even it could lead to adverse effects.”
Tramadol is presently, under Narcotics Control following high abuse and concerns by government and public health officials, meaning that it cannot be brought into the country without permit. Hence, Ebigbeyi said NAFDAC is putting all efforts to ensure that this drug of abuse is not easily accessed in the society. However, she noted that some unscrupulous people have gone ahead to bring a huge quantity of Tramadol to sell to unsuspecting people who will take this fake drug and be affected one way or the other. This interception is a landmark effort on the part of the NAFDAC officers who have been very vigilant at the NARCO Cargo Shed to ensure that fake and adulterated food and other unregistered NAFDAC Products do not come into this country, she said, adding, “We really want to warn the public that they should look out for this particular Tramadol Capsules with a high milligramme content.”
This story was published in Newswatch Times on October 3, 2013.