The National Orientation Agency (NOA) has expressed concern over the increasing rate of consumption of unwholesome and substandard drugs in Nigeria.

Mrs Ngozi Okechukwu, Abia Director of NOA, raised the concern on Friday during a one-day sensitisation workshop organised for patent medicine dealers in Umuahia.

The event which had as its theme: “Substandard and Unwholesome Products, Not a Substitute’’, was  organised by the Christabel International and Partners in collaboration with NOA.

Okechukwu said that fake drugs proliferation was the major contributor to the increase in consumption of unwholesome and substandard drugs in Nigeria.

“Fake drugs proliferation in Nigeria is often associated with poor implementation of existing drug laws, inefficient cooperation between stakeholders, illegal drug importation, corruption and greed as well as  high cost of good quality drugs.

“If left unchecked, the upsurge of illnesses, death, disability, as well as loss of confidence in the health system is grossly detrimental to individuals and the entire nation,’’ she said.

Okechukwu said  the current situation had raised the need for urgent public campaigns, adding that it was the most effective strategy for fighting the use and sale of counterfeit drugs.

She said that in order to record success in the fight against fake drugs, it was pertinent for stakeholders to reach a consensus to be accountable, transparent, responsive and law abiding.

In her speech, Dr Christabel Okoye, Chief Executive Officer of Christabel International and Partners, an NGO, said she was confident that the workshop would impact positively on the participants.

Okoye said the workshop was organised to address the issue of production and importation of counterfeit drugs to sanitise the drug market which the poor masses depended on for healthcare services.

She urged patent medicine dealers to comply with the regulations of the Federal Government (FG) in dealing with drugs, adding that it would reduce the rate of casualties as a result of fake drugs.

In his speech, Mr Alex Iwuoha, President of Nigerian Association of Patent and Proprietary Medicine Dealers (NAPPMED), Abia, thanked organisers of the workshop for creating an opportunity for patent medicine dealers to be reoriented.

Iwuoha called on participants to  apply all that they would be taught during the workshop as it would help them to become more efficient in their trade.

In an interview with News Agency of Nigeria , some participants described the event as timely, considering the need for urgent action to intensify the campaign against fake drugs.

Mr Chima Ndubuaku, a participant, commended the organisers and called on relevant agencies to organise regular sensitisation workshops for patent medicine dealers.

Also, Mrs Breakthrough Nwakanma, another participant, said the workshop would give patent medicine dealers the opportunity to know their rights and emphasised the need to desist from selling counterfeit drugs.