Apparently disturbed by their health implications, the House of Representatives has begun moves to impose harsher penalties on dealers of counterfeited drugs and unwholesome processed foods.
Consequently, a bill to that effect yesterday scaled second reading during plenary presided over by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.
Specifically, the piece of legislation, titled: “A Bill for an Act to amend the counterfeit and fake drugs and unwholesome processed foods (miscellaneous provisions) Act, Cap C 34, laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, aims to increase the penalties for offences under the Act to make comprehensive provisions for forfeiture of assets, compensation other matters connected therewith.
The sponsor, Goodluck Nanah Opiah, expressed concerns that tens of hundreds of Nigerians were losing their lives on a daily basis not as a result of lack of capacity by medical personnel but due to fake drugs.
He stressed the need to review the existing law which stipulates life sentence with an option of N5000 for offenders.
Opiah, who led debate on the general principles of the bill, said under the new bill, there shall be a penalty of life imprisonment and an option of N10 million for importers of fake drugs while there a seven-year imprisonment and an option of N500,000 await hawkers, sellers or accomplices.
It also proposed that drugs seized be forfeited to government.
Besides, the piece of legislation also advanced that victims or their relatives be compensated with proceeds from the criminal act.
After debate, the Speaker subsequently, referred the document to the Committee on Health Services for further legislative consideration.
Also yesterday, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State urged pharmacists to rid the country of the menace with a view to enhancing quality healthcare delivery just as he canvassed sanctions for erring professionals.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 35th annual National Conference of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) at Nike, Enugu, the governor noted that community pharmacists, being the most accessible professionals in the healthcare delivery system, required greater knowledge and skills towards the actualisation of the set objectives in the health sector.