THE National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has warned Nigerians against buying drugs from hawkers.
The Director General of NAFDAC Prof Mojisola Adeyeye said this on Tuesday, July 11, at the official flag-off of the agency’s media sensitisation workshop on the dangers of drug hawking and ripening of fruits with calcium carbides.
Adeyeye, who described the drug hawkers as merchants of death, vowed to work with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to prosecute offenders.
According to her, most of the drugs sold by hawkers are counterfeit, substandard, and expired.
The ICIR on June 10 published a report detailing how many residents in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, consume ‘Baba Aisha Herbal Medicine’, a low-end herbal product that sells for just N100 and is touted to cure common diseases.
The investigation revealed how the chemical compositions expose the users to different health complications such as cancer.
Speaking further, Adeyeye bemoaned the menace of drug hawking in the country, noting that the practice poses a serious challenge to the healthcare delivery system.
She stressed that the agency was determined to eradicate the illicit trade.
“Many drug hawkers are knowingly or unknowingly merchants of death who expose essential and life-saving medicines to the vagaries of inclement weather which degrade the active ingredients of the medicine and turn them to poisons thus endangering human lives.
“Most of the drugs sold by the illiterate and semi-illiterate drug hawkers are counterfeit, substandard or expired, and therefore do not meet the quality, safety, and efficacy requirement of regulated medicines.
“Prescription drugs are also sold by the itinerant drug hawkers who also hold consultation, recommend and prescribe medicines to their gullible patients.”
The NAFDAC boss added that most drug hawkers are major distributors and suppliers of narcotic medicines to criminal networks such as armed bandits, insurgents, kidnappers, and armed robbers.
“Drugs are sensitive life-saving commodities which should not be sold on the streets, motor parks or open markets just like any other article of trade. In this regard, we solicit the cooperation and support of all other Law Enforcement Agencies, Nigerian journalists, and well-meaning Nigerians in ridding the country of this harmful and shameful practice,” she said.
Also, speaking on the danger of ripening fruits with chemicals Adeyeye said NAFDAC has noticed the dangerous practice of sale and consumption of fruits artificially ripened with calcium carbide.
“The ripening of fruits with carbides is another public challenge facing us today and the Agency has deployed a multifaceted approach to tackle the menace.”
According to her, consumption of fruits such as mango, banana, plantain, guava, orange, grape, etc, or any other fruits ripened with calcium carbide is dangerous to health.
“Fruits artificially ripened with calcium carbide may be ripe on the skin, but the inside remains unripe. You can identify such artificially ripened fruits if you notice that the fruits are all yellow whereas the stem is dark, this is true, especially with bananas and plantains. In addition, naturally ripened fruits usually have brown or black spots, while those artificially ripened have traces of powdery substances and peel off quickly”.