By Lara Adejoro
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has warned Nigerians against patronising drug hawkers.
The agency said most of the drugs sold by hawkers are counterfeit, substandard, and expired, warning that the sellers of the medicines are merchants of death.
The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye said this on Tuesday 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.
Prof Adeyeye said the menace of drug hawking poses a serious challenge to the healthcare delivery system in the country, adding that it underscores the agency’s resolute determination to eradicate the illicit trade.
She said, “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.”
According to her, drug hawkers are also the major distributors and suppliers of narcotic medicines to criminal networks such as armed bandits, insurgents, kidnappers, and armed robbers.
She said drug hawkers constitute a serious threat to national security.
“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.
“I wish to warn that any drug hawker arrested by NAFDAC will be prosecuted, will face a jail term, and our Enforcement Officers are currently carrying out synchronised nationwide operation. No offender will be spared from facing the full wrath of the law.
“In this regard, we solicit the cooperation and support of all other Law Enforcement Agencies, Nigerian Journalists, and well-meaning Nigerians in riding the country of this harmful and shameful practice,” she said.