Till date, adulterated and counterfeited drugs remain a major problem in Nigeria and solving it is the greatest challenge facing the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC). The organisation was formed to checkmate illicit and counterfeit products in Nigeria in 1993 under the country's health and safety law and its activities ever since have centred mostly on creating innovations to thwart the activities of counterfeiters.
However, the agency is being challenged by a newer trend of problem, which is in the use of computer technology by some herbal medical practitioners to diagnose various conditions and ailments in their clients and treat such conditions with herbal products some of which are registered by the agency.
Only last week, the agency's Director General, Dr Paul Orhii, paraded two alleged fraudsters caught with activities that have portrayed the agency in very bad light.
One of the alleged fraudsters, Olawale Nurudeen Shittu, who claimed to be a graduate of Civil Engineering of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTETH), Oyo, was said to be using computer technology to diagnose his patients' ailments, thereafter sell some herbal products he claimed to have registered with NAFDAC to take care of the numerous ailments of these clients.
Shittu, according to Orhii, is being investigated also for the illegal advertisement of some herbal products, including Trinity Capsules, Logo Cleanser Bitters, Yoppy Cleanser herbal Capsules, Supa Clinsa Capsule Herbal Remedy and Superman Capsule.
He said Shittu, who uses 19, Railway Bye Pass High Level Markurdi, Benue State, as his clinic, equally uses Abiola Nature Therapy Limited, 7 Tafawa Balewa Street, Jos, Plateau State, for sale and illegal advertisement of product.
"The suspect was arrested in Lagos while presenting a forged NAFDAC notification of product registration of Logo Cleanser Bitters purported to be manufactured by Heritage International Therapy Limited, 84, Karimu Adeyemi Street, off Akinyode Road, Alagbado, Lagos, which name and address was verified to be non-existent", said Orhii.
To this act, Orhii pointed out, "To the best of my knowledge and I have studied Medicine to the highest level in the world, I have a PhD in Medicine, there is no computer or technology where you can just place your hand on and it will give you all the ailments you are suffering from; except this has only recently been manufactured for Nigeria.
"All the diagnosis made by such an instrument which people are using are just a means of defrauding and deceiving people to part with their hard earned money", said Orhii.
"Sometimes, these fraudsters would tell their clients they suffer from conditions they do not have; and the more money they see the client has, the more the conditions the client would suffer from.
"And what we are saying is that this computer diagnosis method for all kinds of ailments among Nigerians is false claim, deceptive and a huge fraud".
He advised Nigerians to patronise registered hospitals for proper diagnosis and treatment because any short cut could be a pathway to fast death.
"We found out that sometimes some of the herbal drugs that are sold are equally falsifying claims", saying, "All the herbal medicines we registered, we have not been able to verify their claims at all. We only approve them for their safety because we tested them and found they are not poisons or poisonous but not clinically proven that they can cure the claims for which these manufacturers adduced. So we view such act as misplaced advertisement", observed Orhii.
He said, the agency is now poised to arrest and prosecute anyone who continues to advertise the use of such un-approved Technologies either in the print or broadcast media.