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Nigerian Regulator Battles Against Counterfeit Drugs

Counterfeit and diverted drugs seized in Nigeria yesterday illustrate some of the key problems. The drug regulation agency NAFDAC made unannounced spot-checks at various pharmacies in the Benue region, using the TruScan device, a hand-held Raman spectroscopy unit, to detect the fake medicines.  This is a non-invasive method which the agency has been using with some success to catch counterfeiters (or at least their local distributors).

Some of the drugs seized included Artesunat (a key anti-malarial), and Ciprotab 500 (a critical antibiotic) which failed the test in many of the different shops tested. NAFDAC said some of the counterfeit drugs confiscated were manufactured in China.  The influx of counterfeit, expired and sub-standard medicines from Asia has been a long-standing problem in Africa.  Most countries on the continent cannot afford to defend themselves in the way that Nigeria has proved admirably determined to do. During the course of the raid, it was also discovered that oral rehydration salt sachets, donated by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), were on sale at some shops.  These low-cost preparations are used to treat dehydration in diarrhoeal diseases such as dysentery and cholera.  They can be the difference between life and death – especially in children – are are not supposed to be sold. This is not an unusual occurrence – the theft and re-sale of donated medicines is rife in many African countries.  The practice of diverting these donated medicines for profit deprives those who desperately need them of their life-saving benefits. Depressing though it is to hear of yet another instance of counterfeit and stolen medicines in Africa, NAFDAC is proving that with the right tools it is possible to at least begin make a difference.
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Pharmaceutical Anti-Counterfeiting

Combating the Real Danger from Fake Drugs has become a must-have primer on anti-counterfeiting and is widely used by drug companies, regulators and others. The book covers the legal, strategic and political issues as well as the technical counter-measures such as process control, digital serialisation and physical security.


Pharmaceutical Anti-Counterfeiting book