US dangles N2m for information on fake anti-malaria drugs | Independent Newspapers Limited
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US dangles N2m for information on fake anti-malaria drugs

Posted: Apr 25, 2015 at 10:03 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Hassan Zaggi, Abuja

You can be richer by N2 million instantly, just for providing information on fake anti-malaria drugs in your area.

This is because the United States government  through the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced a reward of N2 million ($10,000) for any one that provides information on illegal distribution of stolen and fake anti-malaria medication in Nigeria.

The U.S. said the offer was to boost the fight against malaria in the country.

Nigeria records an estimated 100 million malaria cases and about 300,000 deaths each year, thus making it the highest in the number of malaria casualties globally.

U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, made the announcement in Abuja, on Friday, while announcing “Make a Difference” hotline and reward programme as part of the celebration of World Malaria Day and World Intellectual Property Day.

“Globally, more than 1,000 children die of malaria every day. In Nigeria, malaria remains widespread and with transmission throughout the year, most of the population is at risk of being infected.

“Malaria is leading cause of death in children under five years of age and contributes to the death of pregnant women.

“It also impacts the economy by reducing school attendance and lowering worker productivity, in addition to the significant out-of-pocket spending on treatment by households,” he stated.

Entwistle further noted that  despite the huge gains in the fight against malaria in Nigeria, the widespread prevalence of counterfeit, substandard medicines is contributing to the alarmingly high number of malaria deaths and costs of health care in the country.

“There is a broader economic cost of counterfeit medicines; they suppress the ability of Nigeria’s own domestic pharmaceutical industry to develop, innovate and create jobs.

“Counterfeit medicines divert income away from legitimate companies that have invested in the research, development, patent, and trademark of effective medicines, making it more difficult for those legitimate companies to operate,” he explained.

Speaking, the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Paul Orhii, said the institutionalisation of a reward of $10,000 would serve as a catalyst and improve reporting of sales and distribution of counterfeit malaria medicines in the country.

Represented by Ali Ibrahim, Deputy Director, Technical Services of the agency, Orhii commended the U.S. Government for the positive and result-oriented collaboration with his agency, which NAFDAC has established with USAID and United States Pharmacopoeia.

He said the collaboration has also resulted in the provision of reference standards to NAFDAC laboratory at a discounted rate of 75 per cent thereby positioning the NAFDAC to conduct adequate quality testing of medicines including anti-malaria.