The alert on fake cholera vaccine

The recent alert by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration
and Control (NAFDAC) to the effect that there is currently in circulation,
fake Dukoral Oral Cholera vaccine circulating in Bangladesh has reignited
the urgent need for the pragmatic implementation of the National Drug
Distribution Policy.

In a statement issued in Abuja, Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola
Christiana Adeyeye, said the packaging of the falsified Dukoral vaccine
displays texts in English and French language, adding that the World Health
Organisation (WHO) had quarantined some quantities of the falsified vaccine.

The agency, therefore, alerted the public, especially healthcare providers, to be
aware of the ugly development in order to ensure that Nigeria does not become
a victim.
“We are raising this alert to health care providers and the society at large
about the existence of falsified Dukoral Oral Cholera vaccine circulating in
Bangladesh. The WHO Country Office and Health Authorities in Bangladesh
have quarantined the 8,000 falsified packs of Dukoral Oral Cholera vaccine so
far identified,” the statement said.

The NAFDAC D-G went ahead to give details of the affected vaccine which
are Dukoral Oral Cholera Vaccine Batch Number KV8262B1 with 2020-04 as
expiry day while manufacturer is Valneva Canada Inc. “Note that the logo of
the manufacturer Crucell is also displayed,” she said.

Adeyeye clarified that the manufacturer of genuine Dukoral Oral Cholera
Vaccine was Valneva Sweden AB, formerly Crucell Sweden AB. “Valneva
Sweden AB, the manufacturer of genuine Dukoral Oral Cholera vaccine, stated
that the combination of the manufacturers, Valneva Canada Inc and Crucell
should not exist on any packaging of the vaccine in the market.

“Dukoral Oral Cholera vaccine manufactured by Valneva Canada Inc is not
registered by NAFDAC. All importers, wholesalers and retailers are implored
to desist from illegal importation, distribution and sale of the falsified vaccine,”
Adeyeye warned.
She said that surveillance had been strengthened by NAFDAC at all ports
of entry to prevent illegal importation of the falsified Dukoral Oral Cholera
vaccine from Bangladesh. “NAFDAC has also heightened surveillance to
prevent distribution and sale of the falsified vaccine.

Health care providers and other members of the public are advised to be vigilant and contact the nearest
NAFDAC office with any information on the falsified Dukoral vaccine.

“Anybody in possession of the falsified vaccine should submit it to the nearest
NAFDAC office,” she advised.
The menace of fake and counterfeit medicines has remained a public health
concern around the world. The World Health Organisation, WHO, says one in
10 drugs sold in Africa is falsified or substandard. These drugs include the ones
that can kill or maim. Findings show that some of these medicines contain little
or no active ingredients thus prolonging illness.

The Financial Services Advisory Leader and Chief Economist, Project Blue,
PWC Nigeria, Andrew Nevin, at the 90th Annual National Conference of
the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) in Umuahia, the Abia capital,
recently stated that Africa records at least 100,000 deaths, arising from fake
drug-related ailments, yearly, as counterfeits drugs account for 17 percent of
the generic drugs in supply in Nigeria.

Information on essential medicine and health product information portal
of the WHO reveals that the proliferation of fake and substandard drugs in
Nigeria has affected the credibility of the healthcare system, which can result
to harmful effects on consumers leading to illness, disabilities and even death.

In similar vein, reports by the International Criminal Policing Association
(INTERPOL) show that one million people die yearly from fake and counterfeit
drugs, as recent studies which evaluated the quality of drugs globally, showed
that 9.1 percent of drugs failed the basic quality control tests, with an estimated
16.6 percent drug failure rate in Africa, about one in every six pills.

Consequently, in a bid to nip this ugly trend in the bud as well as ameliorate
the deleterious effects of fake and counterfeit drugs on hapless Nigerians and
the nation’s economy, in 2018 NAFDAC destroyed fake foods and drugs worth
N4.7 billion in four exercises in Abuja; Shagamu, Ogun state; Kaduna and
The agency also introduced a nation-wide campaign in schools, through
the Young Pharmacists Group (YPG) of the Pharmaceutical Society of
Nigeria (PSN). The campaign, according to Prof. Adeyeye, will strengthen
pharmacovigilance, monitoring of substandard and falsified medicines, and
abuse of drugs, opioids and narcotics at the grassroots.

“We are planning to use young pharmacy group, these are thousands of
pharmacists all over the country that we are going to use to give education on
how much we abuse drugs and to do a lot of monitoring of substandard and
falsified medicines, narcotics and so on. We are actually reaching the grassroots;
we are going on a grassroots campaign all over the country,” she said.

Blueprint, therefore, commends NAFDAC’s efforts at controlling the
proliferation of fake and counterfeit drugs in the country, including the recent
red alert on the fake Dukoral Oral Cholera vaccine currently in circulation in
Bangladesh with Nigeria as its eventual destination.

While consider NAFDAC’s strategies as proactive and result-oriented, it is expedient to call for a more
stringent and punitive legislative framework that would serve as deterrence to
peddlers of fake and counterfeit drugs in the country.

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