National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says it is working on reducing importation of drugs from its present 70 per cent to 30 per cent by 2025.
NAFDAC director-general, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos that this could be achieved through increased local manufacturing of drugs.
Adeyeye said that increasing local drug manufacturing would help curb prevalence of substandard drugs and ensure drug security in the country.
She said, “We are using multifaceted approaches to curb substandard and falsified medicine in the country.
“If a country is over-dependent on importation of medicine, such a country will get substandard drugs and if not for COVID-19, we wouldn’t have woken up from our slumber as a country.
“When I started my tenure, local manufacturing of medicine became my focus because when you increase local manufacturing you are not just giving more jobs or increasing the GDP.
“Most, importantly, you are safeguarding the health of the nation because if somebody is falsifying something on Ota, for example, we can get there within one hour and something like that has happened before.
“So, we want to change the 70 per cent importation of drugs into the country to 30 per cent by 2025, so that as a nation we can say we have drug security because we don’t have that now.
“A country that is not drug secure is not secured in other facets”.
The DG said the agency had also tightened the belt around shipment of drugs into the country.
“We have read our riot act to drug manufacturers who bring their drugs to the country if they want to be friends in trade with Nigeria.
“If they want to be friends with us, they should do what we want and not send what will kill our people and that is why we have tightened shipment of drugs into the country.
“We have been to China and India and now we deal with the lab directly, not the agents like what it used to be before,” he said.
She also said the agency is working with international partners to ensure Nigeria gets vaccines with a long expiration date.
Adeyeye spoke against the backdrop of the one million doses of vaccines that expired in November and were destroyed by NAFDAC and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and the Abuja Environmental Protection Agency.
Over 1,066,214 doses of expired AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines were destroyed at the Gosa Dumping site in Abuja.
She said the expired vaccines had very short expiration which made it impossible to be administered in time due to logistics reasons.
Adeyeye said, “When developed countries started using vaccines for many months, we didn’t have access to them until we started receiving donations, not just through COVAX alone but from some countries also.
“The expiration date was shorter than what it was supposed to be and between the time we tested and started using it, there was not enough time and that was the only reason not because we were careless.
“But going forward, we are working with international partners to ensure the expiration date of any vaccine we will be receiving is up to five or six months.”
On the new Omnicron variant of COVID-19, the D-G said that studies on the variants were still ongoing globally.
She advised Nigerians to continue to adhere to the safety measures given by the various health authorities to further curb the spread of the virus.
“A lot is still not known about Omicron because studies are still going on globally about the variant.
“The only way to keep safe is to continue with the usage of masks, maintain social distancing, wash our hands regularly and avoid crowded areas to stay safe,” she said. (NAN)