Nigerian Operation Closes More than 1,200 Illegal Pharmacies

Local Nigerian authorities recently shut down more than 1,200 illegal pharmacies in Lagos for selling substandard and counterfeit drugs.

The Lagos State Task Force on Counterfeit, Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods reportedly shut down 1,253 illegal pharmaceutical outlets at Idumota, at the Lagos Central Business District (LCBD) on Lagos Island, according to the newspaper the Nigerian Compass.

The state Commissioner for Health Dr. Jide Idris said that the large operation was part of Nigeria’s efforts to protect its citizens by ridding the country of counterfeit drugs.

Idris told the news source that the raid was conducted by officials of the state task force, along with representatives of Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria (PCN), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Pharmaceutical Inspectors Committee (PIC), State Ministry of Health and the Nigerian Police Force.

The commissioner also noted that the operation was conducted in compliance with provision Number 25, Chapter C4 of the Counterfeit, Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 1999.

Specifically, the impetus for the raid was the continuing presence of illegal pharmaceutical peddlers on Iga Iduganran Street, Church Street, Dosumu Street, Ashogbon Street, Obun Eko Street and Orisan Street on Lagos Island.

“The raids by the men of the state task force on counterfeit, fake drugs and unwholesome processed foods was necessitated by the persistent defiance of government’s stipulated regulation on drug production, importation, manufacture, sales or display for sales, hawking, distribution, adulteration, and possession of drugs by illegal operators,” Idris told the news source.

Nigeria has a troubling history of problems with counterfeit drugs.

In 1990, 109 children were killed when they were given paracetamol syrup, which is a common, over-the-counter pain reliever and fever reducer, that had been made using toxic ethylene glycol solvent instead of propylene glycol. Then, in 1995, approximately 2,500 Nigerian children died from taking a fake meningitis vaccine, according to reports.

Idris said that Nigerian citizens could protect themselves from such tragedies by making sure they purchase their medications from approved sources.

“I urge all residents of the State to always purchase their drugs from a duly registered pharmacy or patent medicine store which can be identified by a signboard indicating that such Pharmacy or Patent Medicine shop is duly registered and licensed”, he said.