Fake and substandard drugs have remained a public health concern in Nigeria and other African countries.
According to the World Health Organisation, one in 10 drugs sold in Africa is falsified or substandard.
Also, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria in 2017 said 90 per cent of pharmaceutical products in Nigeria were fakes and that Africa recorded at least 100,000 deaths annually from drug-related ailments.
In a bid to ensure that people living in the West Africa have access to safe, quality and affordable drugs, the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) says the implementation of the ECOWAS harmonised Common Technical Document (CTD) will help local drug manufacturers in the region to meet the standard expected of them by the international community.
A pharmaceutical and Quality Assurance Analyst at the West Africa Health Organisation, Mrs Sybil Ossei-Agyeman-Yeboah, in an interview with our correspondent said there was the need to build the capacity of local drug manufacturers in the region so that they could compete with their counterparts in developed countries.
Speaking on the sidelines of a three-day training of local drug manufacturers in Lagos last week, Ossei-Agyeman-Yeboah said the CTD was aimed at harmonising the requirements for registration of medicines in West Africa.
“A common technical document has been developed and we want to ensure that every member state uses the same document across the region. The issue is not just about counterfeit medicines, the issue is about quality, safe and accessible medicines.”
Also, a pharmaceutical assessor at the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Mr Emmanuel Alozie, in an interview with our correspondent said the harmonised CTD would help local manufactures of drugs to be able to market their drugs across the 15 West African countries.
“It will increase the stream of business for Nigeria. Our local manufacturers will not only need to produce drugs to sell in our region, it will increase GDP for Nigeria if we start exporting drugs manufactured in Nigeria to other West African countries.
“The CTD is a document that was harmonised by the International Conference on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use; the same CTD that is applicable in Nigeria is applicable all over the world; the same submission we use here is what is being used all over the world,” Alozie said.
He added that regulators in the region were interested in seeing that drugs produced by local manufacturers were safe for consumption.
Also, a member of the export working group at WAHO, Mr Uchenna Moronu, said the knowledge of the registration of drugs was an evolving science which must not be taken for granted by local manufacturers.
“Over time we have come to understand that drugs cannot only save lives but they can also kill people. The science is now evolving and regulators are asking more questions.
“There are ways to make drugs properly, and there are things we need to look for that will ensure that the manufacturers can make these drugs consistently. The coming of the CTD will help to standardise how the drugs are made and give us that window to look at what the manufacturer is doing and to ensure that he is doing the right thing,” Moronu said.
He said if the drugs were made properly, they would be safer and people would be assured of its efficacy.
“We need to be able to tell the world that when drugs are made in Nigeria, they are safe for anyone anywhere to consume. If they can see what we have put into registering these drugs, they will trust these drugs and that will help our local manufacturers because their products will be trusted. Nobody will trust a drug because it was made in Nigeria, they will trust it if it was made properly and we can verify what the manufacturer has done and we are sure that he can do it over and over without changing anything about the product,” Moronu added.