The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, on Thursday paraded a generator dealer, Celestine Eruokwu, and three others, Paul Ogbonna, Ifeanyi Edeh and Ozoemena Odo, for importing fake drugs worth N9m.
According to the Director General of the agency, Dr. Paul Orhii, some other fake drugs were also recovered at the cargo shed, NAHCO, Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, bringing the total value of all the seized goods to N59.3m.
“Based on an intelligence report that Eruokwu was in possession of fake Maloxine tablets, we raided his house at 77 Mosafejo Street, Suru-Alaba, Lagos, where we recovered 90,000 doses of Maloxine tablets with market value of over N9m,” Orhii said.
Investigations revealed that Eruokwu was a generator dealer and had a shop at Idumota area of Lagos state.
“He confessed that he imported the product from China and that they are fake. Recent findings indicate that counterfeiters of medicine now hide under the shadows of other businesses to carry out their nefarious activities.”
Another suspect, Odo, who is a mobile telephone dealer, allegedly imported N31m worth of fake drugs but declared them as telephone accessories. He also imported empty packets of the drugs.
His cover was however blown when the goods were inspected.
“During routine inspection at NAHCO, our men intercepted some packages of pharmaceutical products declared as mobile phone accessories. The clearing agent was arrested and he led investigators to apprehend Ozoemena Odo, who came to receive the consignment on behalf of the owners who are based in Onitsha,” Orhii said.
“He was however unable to give us useful information about the owners of the consignment. Some of the drugs were 30,000 sachets of Regretone tablets which is for treating hypertension; 10,000 packaging materials of the same ddrug, 12,000 packs of Postinor tablets as well as Artesunate packaging materials.
“The counterfeit medicines have an estimated market value of N31.5m”.
Orhii said counterfeiters had continued to devise new means of importing drugs. He said because counterfeiters had noticed that Customs officials hardly informed NAFDAC of importation which does not involve drugs, criminals had started stuffing drugs in imported vehicles and other goods.
“We have observed that the current trend now is to import packaging materials of popular and fast-moving drugs such as antibiotics, injectables and anti-malaria drugs with the intention of putting in fake products.
“Also, most of these drugs are brought as unaccompanied cargo and concealed as general commodities and it takes the extra effort of our officers to detect them.
“We are intensifying our surveillance and monitoring activities daily to ensure fake and unwholesome products do not enter our country at will,” Orhii said.