The House of Representatives has directed the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to ensure that the Mobile Authentication Service (MAS) is reactivated and applied to all drugs purchased in the country.
It further urged NAFDAC to as a matter of urgency, begin a nationwide publicity on MAS for the education and enlightenment of the public as well as mandated its Committee on Health Services to ensure compliance with the resolutions.
The decision of the House followed a motion sponsored by Hon. Babajimi Benson (APC, Lagos) on the need to carry out the directive to save lives.
Benson had expressed concern that drug counterfeiting remained a major cause of death of many citizens.
Benson, while leading the debate said fake drugs undermined every aspect of medical treatment and health care delivery and constitute the major cause of suffering and death of many Nigerians.
He said counterfeiting of drugs had contributed negatively to the well-being of Nigerians while the illicit trade has escalated within the country’s health care system in recent times.
Benson hinted that in 2010, NAFDAC in its efforts to combat counterfeit drugs initiated the MAS by pharmaceuticals companies nationwide which allowed consumers to send by text message as authentication code to a designated number to confirm the genuineness of drugs.
He said MAS, which has a unique PIN of 12 or 13 digit could be sent by a short code and elicits response indicating if the drug was genuine, fake or stolen.
The lawmaker, however, expressed worries that in recent times, there had been a reduced campaign on the authentication process and most over the counter drugs and infant syrups do not have the unique 12 digit PIN.
He also said this negligence on the part of NAFDAC and SON – the two regulatory agencies in the drug sector had led to the influx of fake and counterfeit drugs in Nigerian markets and the health sector general.
Hon. Serguis Ogun (PDP, Edo) while contributing to the motion said fake drugs are a major cause of untimely deaths in the country.