Avarice is the spur of industry.’ These words of Scottish philosopher, David Hume, aptly describe the avaricious desire to gain wealth of Dr Stella Okoli, whose Emzor Pharmaceuticals Industrial Limited, owners of Peace Standard and Bioraj Pharmaceuticals, in Ilorin, Kwara State, at the detriment of millions of Nigerian youths.
They were caught in the middle of illegal manufacturing and distribution of codeine-contained syrup, running into billions.
Their modus operandi was exposed in the ‘Sweet sweet codeine,’ a documentary, aired on BBC, which revealed how corrupt officials of the big pharmaceutical companies conspired with distributors to make the cough syrup available in the open market.
Immediately after the expose, NAFDAC shut down the three companies implicated in the documentary and the productions and importation of codeine was banned by the Federal Government. The Director General of NAFDAC, Professor Mojisola Christiana Adeyeye, said the action was necessitated by “insufficient evidence gathered, and apparent resistance to provide needed documents during our (official) inspection of the three companies on May 2, 2018’.
According to Adeyeye, it became necessary to shut down all product lines of the three companies, to allow for a full and comprehensive investigation. Nigerians were happy, they thought the justice will be done, as those involved in taking advantage of the weak system of no monitoring of production and distribution. But alas, days back, many Nigerians were gob smacked when the NAFDAC Director General, approved the reopening of Emzor, Peace Standard and Bioraj Pharmaceuticals Limited, both located in Ilorin, Kwara State, but maintained suspension of further production of codeine-based syrups in all three companies.
Despite the fact that NAFDAC had many anomalies staring their faces, it reportedly slammed Dr Okoli and her Emzor team with obstruction and concealment of facts when the NAFDAC team visited the company premises.
The company was also charged with possession of poor current manufacturing practice, that includes poor document retrieval system and un-reconciled record system in the utilization of codeine sulfate, inconsistencies in the shipping documents of finished products and lack of system in of monitoring of the accredited distributors. Even while the Sales Representatives indicted in the BBC documentary is said to be at large, and many questions yet to be answered by Emzor,many believed, it’s more that what meets the eye.
According to Professor Adeyeye, the flimsy decision to reopen the three companies followed the findings of the investigations by the agency in which the leaderships of the companies admitted their culpability in the illegal violations of the illegal sales of codeine syrup.
On the path of Peace Standard Pharmaceuticals, under the leadership of Samuel Akinlaja, NAFDAC indicted it for poor distribution practice and misplaced role play of staff, the company was only warned to ensure strict compliance with all written standard operating procedures (SOP).
The Managing Director of Bioraj Pharmaceuticals, Rahamon J. Bioku, also led his team to the meeting with the agency and was said to be berated for violating Good Manufacturing Practices GMP by not monitoring the accredited distributors and for a worker colluding with a sacked staff to illegally distribute codeine syrup that was allegedly stolen from the company.
The company was instructed to develop and implement Good Manufacturing Practices including Good Storage Practice. The company was also charged to ensure the enrolment of competent and qualified personnel for respective positions, develop access control into their premises as well as develop a system to monitor distributor’s activities.
At the meeting, the company brought some of the documents such as shipping documents and list of accredited distributors that were not provided during the inspection.According to NAFDAC’s statement,the three companies cooperated with NAFDAC during the meeting, provided the needed documents, some of which are being verified. The three companies have now been charged with administrative fees that are commensurate with the respective violations.
Industry watchers are of the opinion the whole scenario has down-played the criminal offences of the company, as the companies might have rubbed the hands of NAFDAC.
Culled from Urban Life