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By NBF News
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•Dr Orhii
National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control's, NAFDAC declared that statistics from its ongoing nationwide TRUSCAN Surveillance exercise has shown appreciable decrease of fake and counterfeit drugs in circulation.

TRUSCAN is a hand held device used for on the spot assessment of quality of pharmaceutical products to ascertain their authenticity as well as curb activities of counterfeiters. So far the Surveillance activities have been carried out in 26 States of the federation.

Briefing journalists shortly after the exercise in Lagos Metropolis, NAFDFAC's Deputy Director, Ports Inspection Director, Pharmacist Comfort Makanjuola explained that the exercise which began in January, 2010 was based on statistical data from risk assessment and risk profiling carried out by the agency on 15 commonly faked and used drugs in the country.

According to her, the researches showed that the counterfeiters target fast moving and expensive drugs such as anti diabetics, anti malarial, anti hypertensive and antibiotics.

Corroborating her views, Assistant Director, Ports Inspectorate Directorate, Mrs. Aigbomian Leli who stressed that the incidence of fake drugs have reduced drastically due to the activities of the agency, said, 'When we started the assignment in January 2010, we used to mop up more products that we are mopping up now. The agency is adopting multi prong approach to reducing counterfeit drugs in circulation. We have initiated the SMS, we are doing mopping up. We are using the TRUSCAN and we have all the states offices also monitoring all the outlets. With this combined efforts we have seen a much more reduced fake drugs in circulation'

Declaring that the agency would not rest until the country is rid off fake and unwholesome products, she assured Nigerians that 'We are not going to sleep, we have to keep on strategizing because we must be ahead of the counterfeiters. When you bring out one strategy, they will go back and bring their own. So we are bringing in more and more cutting edge technology to combat fake drugs'.

'With what we have seen in the 25 states including Lagos , so far, we have seen a gradual reduction of fake drugs. It is reducing. Our bags are almost empty today. Usually we come with very big bags but today we have very little to mop up'.

Leli explained that the device TRUSCAN is used to test not only the active ingredients of a drug but total package including the colour used. She pointed out that most drugs most times fail even when they are from the producers because the TRUSCAN detect any change in the original make of each product.

Asked how they ensure that the device picked the right active ingredients, she hinted that the agency go as far as directing manufacturers outside the country to send in the signature of their products for onward installation into the device.

'We ensure that all drugs have their signatures in the TRUSCAN and when we test drugs, we compare them with the one already in the device. Once it matches the signature in the device, that shows that is original but when it fails, it is fake. We not only based our judgment on only TRUSCAN, sometimes we take samples of the drugs tested back to the laboratories for further assessment.

Speaking on the exercise in Lagos, carried out in Komodo, Idumota, Mushin, Epe so far in the state, she explained that virtually all the pharmaceutical outlets visited, only few where discovered to have a few counterfeit drugs.

Some of the pharmaceutical shops visited include; Govatek Pharmacy, Eleosgate pharmacy, West Wind Medicine store, Jumes Pharmaceuticals, Gaskem pharmacy &stores, Jobiz Pharmacy & Stores, Divne Glory Investment and Oriwu Pharmacy & Super Market among others.

We have done risk assessment; risks profiling the drugs that are frequently counterfeiter are drugs that are in high demand. The exercise we are doing we did not just cooked up but it is based on statistical data. We have seen that a lot more adult products are being counterfeited. Children drugs are not too frequently counterfeited. Sometimes the hospitals give them free.