The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration & Control, NAFDAC, has urged the National Assembly to fund the agency towards realisation of the enforcement of the Mobile Authentication Scheme, MAS, on drug products so as to reduce counterfeiting.
Disclosing this position weekend, Director-General, NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, said the request was in response to the suggestion by the Speaker of the House of Representatives that the agency utilises MAS for all drugs regulated by it.
Adeyeye said: “The suggestion by the Honourable Speaker to use MAS for all drugs regulated by NAFDAC is noble, and in line with the agency’s ultimate agenda. However, a lot of staffing and funding will be needed for full implementation.
“The limited authentication that is being undertaken currently for the two classes of drugs by NAFDAC sometimes result in overwhelming calls to the drug information specialists at NAFDAC secretariat.
According to her: “Considering the fact that NAFDAC has over 11,000 registered drug products, the manpower that will be needed to authenticate all drugs will be enormous. In addition, the information technology unit of NAFDAC will also need to network with NAFDAC offices in the 36 states in all six geographical zones and Abuja.
“Therefore, NAFDAC will need to expand the drug information centre with higher bandwidths and computers. I will implore the National Assembly to fund NAFDAC to achieve this noble and necessary cause.”
Further, she said all manufacturers will also need to retrofit their labelling lines in order to accommodate the MAS codes.
“This is attainable except that the manufacturers will need a tax break in order to accommodate these changes, knowing that, in Nigeria, all manufacturing equipment pieces, all raw materials are imported.”
Urging the Speaker to facilitate tax break for manufacturers, Adeyeye said the move would improve trade and encourage more local manufacturing, knowing the importance of safeguarding the health of the public.
The MAS was deployed by NAFDAC in 2010 as an anti-counterfeiting tool to curb the menace of substandard and falsified medical products. Medicines identified for implementation and enforcement in the first stage of the MAS scheme are antimalarials and antibacterials.
Adeyeye lamented that the scheme was not fully implemented by all relevant stakeholders despite several enforcement deadlines issued by NAFDAC for compliance.
“The position of the members of House of Representatives that Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, and Consumer Protection Council, CPC, should ensure implementation of MAS scheme is ultra vires.
“This is because it is outside the purview of these sister agencies to implement the use of MAS on NAFDAC regulated products. The products involved in MAS Scheme are products already registered by NAFDAC and which the agency (following its mandate) has decided to control the authenticity and distribution.