The officer in charge at the Snakebite Treatment and Research Centre, Kaltungo, Gombe State, has raised the alarmed over the circulation of fake anti-snake venom known as ASNA polyvalent.
Dr Abubakar Ballah told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaltungo, on Friday, that the drugs are in circulation in Bauchi, Taraba, Adamawa and Yobe states.
He said the unwholesome drugs, which were not suitable for the handling of bites inflicted on humans by African snakes, were produced by some pharmaceutical companies in India, and imported into the country
“The Indian anti-snake venom is not specific to our own type of snakes but people are buying them because they are cheaper. But what they don’t know is that they are not effective,” he said.
He called on the authorities in the affected states to emulate Gombe State ministry of Health, which has succeeded in keeping such drugs out of the state through effective monitoring.
“The ministry of Health in Gombe is strict about ensuring quality and standard,” he said.
According to him, NAFDAC is also doing its best to address the problem but some of the drugs are smuggled into the country through the ‘back door,’ bearing fake NAFDAC registration numbers.
He also said that in 2015, International Society for Technology in UK, intervened by talking to the Indian producers to stop the production of the fake venom but they continued because of the huge profits involved.
“I am therefore calling on the federal government to intervene because of the threat to lives,” he urged.
Speaking on the best option for the treatment of snakebites in Africa, Ballah recommended Echitab ‘G’ and ‘Echitab plus’ anti-snake venom, as the most potent, based on the outcome of research conducted some years ago.
He said Echitab G is specifically meant for carpet viper, the type of snakes that cover the whole of West Africa. While Echitab plus is meant for the treatment of bites from puff-adder, cobra and carpet viper snakes.
NAN reports that the research center in Kaltungo serves the entire North-east, other parts of the north, and neighbouring countries like Cameroon and Chad.