Alhaji Hussein Labaran Zakari is the chairman of Nigeria Association of Patent and Proprietary Medicine Dealers (NAPPMD). In this interview with ABDULLAHI YAKUBU, he speaks on why the menace of fake drugs will cripple Nigeria’s economy. Excerpt:
We observed that the pharmaceutical market in Kano is dominated by fake drugs, what is your take on this?
In every society, there are bad eggs, and we have bad eggs within us that are neither our members . Even our members have been caught in the unwholesome business of selling fake drugs in the market.
Secondly, you know that pharmaceutical business is not something that is unique to a person or group of persons. Today, most people are into it in order to make money and earn a living. They are not necessarily our members as stated earlier but they are interested in what we are doing .
But we suddenly heard about arrest and confistication of fake drugs, what really happened?
Yes, we also heard about that arrest along Murtala Muhammed Way on the activities of fake drug dealers. We quickly swung into action to get to the nitty gritty of the matter. We met and discussed with the agency that arrested the fake dealers and we were briefed on what happened. We informed them that we also have a taskforce that move from one shop to another to arrest fake drug dealers and hand them over to the regulators afterwards.
However, due to the laudable campaign that the union is doing on the dangers of selling fake drugs, most of our members take the expired or fake drugs to our offices for fear of being arrested. Recently, we evacuated eight trucks of fake drugs and handed them over to the Kano State Consumer Protection Council (CPC) under the chairmanship of Hon Baffa Babba, which I’m sure that you must have heard the story in the media. It was voluntarily done, in order to assist the government in the fight against fake drugs because it is said that the fight against drugs is a fight for all.
In other words, we felt that by allowing these fake drugs business to boom will definitely affect the economy, health and increase social vices among the youths. We estimated the drugs handed over to the CPC to cost over N100 million.
The issue of fake drugs is what has been lingering in Kano and Nigeria for decades. But in our own little efforts to ensure sanity, we collaborate with both the state and federal governments in dealing with any thing fake in the markets. Currently, a wholesale centre for drugs is under construction at Danwauro village. The center will be exclusively meant for drugs dealers. All the regulators incharge of drugs will have offices inside the market for easy monitoring and prosecution of defaulters.
The regulatory agencies such as Phamaceutical Council of Nigeria (PCN), NAFDAFC, NDLEA and among others will be doing their work so that anybody caught selling fake drugs will be arrested and prosecuted there. This is why we are collaborating with the government to ensure the completion of that market, which will make it easier in addressing the menace of fake drugs.
In terms of drug addicts, Kano is at the forefront of the campaign but with the partnership with NGOS, CSOs, local, state, and federal governments and all stakeholders, there is a great reduction in the consumption of hard drugs in the state.
How would you rate the relationship between patent medicine dealers and the NDLEA?
We are happy that Major Gen Buba Marwa (rtd) was appointed as the NDLEA boss and there is significant changes in the way things are done. Marwa is committed in tackling fake drugs menace in the country. He knows the work that President Muhammadu Buhari assigned him to do. I could remember that he was here last year to interface with us, after he heard about the kind of contributions we are making to rid the society of fake drugs.