The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has lamented the danger of fake, substandard and poor-quality medicines present in the nation, stressing that it poses a serious public health problem, particularly in emerging economies and developing countries, like Nigeria and may have a significant impact on the national clinical and economic burden.

This was disclosed during the MedLab West Africa exhibition and conference in collaboration with Pharmaconex by Informa market held in Lagos, April 22-24,2024.

President of the association Cyril Usifoh stated that the country is becoming a fertile ground for fake and substandard drug production, due to the increasing number of such locations where medicinal drugs are dispensed and sold.

“Substandard and falsified medical products may cause harm to patients and fail to treat the diseases for which they were intended. They lead to a loss of confidence in medicines, healthcare providers and health systems.

“They affect every region of the world. Noting that substandard and falsified medical products from all main therapeutic categories have been reported to appropriate bodies but need awareness to curb it.

He called for stricter measures to be adopted and enforcement of pharmaceutical regulations, stressing that unregistered premises pose a serious threat to public health, as they may not meet safety and quality standards.

Usifoh said ensuring the availability of high-quality medicines was essential to protect patients and maintain the effectiveness of treatment regimens. Poor-quality drugs can be ineffective, leading to treatment failure, antimicrobial resistance, and even harmful side effects.

He highlighted that to lack of access to quality pharma facilities is a major reason why counterfeit drugs exist in the country.

The president added that a reliable supply chain of safe and effective medicines is essential for the functioning of healthcare systems in the region. Strengthening pharmaceutical supply chains, improving regulatory systems, and investing in healthcare infrastructure are vital to ensure the availability of medicines in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Access to essential medicines is critical for the control and management of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other prevalent diseases in the region,” he said.

Usifo maintained that access to medicines was a key component of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being.

“Addressing the challenges related to access to medicines Usifoh said it requires a multi-faceted approach involving collaboration between governments, international organisations, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders to ensure that all individuals have access to the medicines they need to live healthy and productive lives.

However, he said access to medicines is a fundamental human right. If medicines are accessible and affordable, they save lives by reducing mortality and morbidity associated with acute and chronic diseases. WHO recommends that all countries voluntarily reach the minimum target of 80 per cent availability of medicines by 2025.”

Meanwhile, the Group Exhibition Director, Informa Markets Egypt, for Pharmaconex West Africa, Mostapha Khalil said they aim to accelerate medicine discovery, development and manufacturing ultimately improving access to life-saving medication for all.

However, urging the country to seek strategic partnership with countries like Egypt, the National Chairman, Industrial Pharmacist of Nigeria, Kenneth Onuegbu, said gaps in the production of essential medicines require the country’s urgent action.

He said there are gaps in Nigeria for Lack of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) production in the country and low vaccine production capabilities.

April 24, 2024

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