AN approximated sum of 3.5 billion naira worth of unsafe and regulated products was set ablaze by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in Sagamu, Ogun State on Friday.
The destruction, which was part of the agency’s routine operation to clear the Nigerian market off substandard, unwholesome and expired products, involved a huge quantity of narcotics and abused drugs such as tramadol, codeine and an illegally imported but unwholesome sugar brand.
Speaking during the destruction exercise led by the Ogun State First Lady, Dr Olufunso Amosun, the Director General, NAFDAC, Professor Moji Adeyeye revealed that out of the 3, 508, 550, 762 naira value of the products confiscated for burning, the value of the Tramadol recovered from the street was estimated at N1,708, 750, 000 naira street value, most of which were beyond the agency’s banned strength of 50mg and 100mg.
Warning about the health implications of consuming beyond the recommended strength of Tramadol and codeine especially among young people, Adeyeye said that the agency has unravelled the syndicates allegedly involved in the importation of the banned strength of Tramadol to Nigeria.
“The products being destroyed are made up of tramadol, codeine, illegally imported unwholesome sugar and counterfeit medicines, the total street value of which is N3,508,550, 762, while the total street value of the tramadol alone is N1,708,750,000.00
“We wish to emphasise that only 50mg and 100mg of tramadol are approved for use in Nigeria.
The banned strengths have deleterious effects on vital organs of the body including the brain. Its use has ruined the lives of many promising youths who should have been the future and asset of our beloved country.”
“NAFDAC’s Inspection, Investigation and Enforcement activities have, however, exposed a cartel that specialises in the importation of banned strengths of Tramadol (strengths above 100mg),” she said.
Adeyeye called on the National Assembly to expedite the process of amending laws that address the menace of counterfeiting and illegal importation of regulated products in order to save the lives and wellbeing of unsuspecting consumers.
She said that “A situation where a convict is sentenced to 2years in prison with an option of the maximum statutory fine of five hundred thousand is a nudge on the counterfeiters, not even a slap. We call for stiffer sentencing, confiscation of the assets of the convict and adequate compensation of the victim(s) of the crime among others”.
“Of particular interest is a businesswoman one Mrs Esther Akinsanya and her company in a popular market in Lagos who specialises in REBAGGING of the smuggled substandard Brazilian sugar in the name of a popular brand.
During the raid, massive re-bagging activity was taking place in her warehouse which she had converted to a factory.
“The case has been prosecuted at the Federal High Court, Lagos and the counterfeiter convicted. The Court ordered the destruction of the items.