FORMER Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr Paul Orhii, has called on stiffer punishment for counterfeit drug producers in the country.
Orhii, who spoke to newsmen in Makurdi, Benue State capital, at the weekend, also called for review of laws against counterfeit drugs in the country, describing it, “as too lenient.”
He lamented the danger inherent in counterfeit drugs, saying, “drug counterfeiting is a very big problem in West African sub region, particularly, Nigeria.
According to Orhii, ‘’one of the challenges bedeviling the fight against fake drugs in the country is the lapse in Nigerian drug laws and if these laws are not reviewed, drug counterfeiters would continue to go scot-free.’’
The former NAFDAC executive said maximum penalty for producing, importing and distributing fake drugs, was a five-year jail term with an option of N500, 000 .00 fine, in the present laws.
“This amount is nothing to drug counterfeiters; rather Nigerian government needs to review the laws in order to impose a more severe punishment for offenders.”
To buttress his stand on fight against fake drugs, Orhii cited instances where fake drugs producers, who connived and brought fake drugs into Nigeria from Japan, were officially reported to Japan government.
He added, “We took up the case by reporting to Japan government about the companies that produced the counterfeit drugs and connived with Nigerian importers.
“The producers were prosecuted and sentenced to death, whereas, Nigerians who imported the fake drugs went scot-free as a result of leniency in the country’s fake drugs laws.”
Dr Orhii disclosed that while serving as Director General of NAFDAC, he set up a panel to review the drugs laws, which proposed a life jail term for drug offenders.
“Personally, I had wanted death sentence because as far as I’m concerned, a drug counterfeiter is a mass murderer and should be hanged.”
He said some civil right activists drew his attention to capital punishment as archaic and no longer popular in the world.
“We also proposed that in situation where we can prove that the fake drug has caused severe body injury on the victims, some of the assets of the criminals should be confiscated and used to compensate the victims of the crime.”
While stating that the proposed bill was halted as a result of last general election and change in government and his subsequent exit from NAFDAC, Orhii therefore, called on his successor to ensure that the bill proposal was revisited and passed.
He further admonished his successor to ride on the foundations he and the late Dr Dora Akunyili had laid at NAFDAC to enable him succeed both in office and in the fight against fake drugs in the country.