Dora Akunyili’s Legacy: NAFDAC’s Ongoing Battle Against Fake Products in Nigeria

In the early 2000s, Nigeria was plagued by the widespread circulation of fake drugs, a menace that took a personal toll on one woman, Dora Akunyili. 

Motivated by the tragic loss of her sister to counterfeit insulin, Akunyili embarked on a mission to eradicate fake products from the country. 

In 2001, she assumed the role of the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), marking the beginning of a relentless pursuit against counterfeit goods.

Akunyili’s dedication was unwavering, and she famously declared, “This sealed her fate.” As she cracked down on fake drug manufacturers, the powerful cartel behind these illicit operations targeted her.

By 2006, Akunyili had achieved a remarkable feat, reducing the prevalence of fake drugs in Nigeria from a staggering 90% to a mere 10%. Her impact extended beyond pharmaceuticals, reaching other sectors plagued by counterfeiting, including fake drinks and various products. 

She went to great lengths, blocking every fake medicine manufacturing company within the country and even journeying to China to halt the importation of counterfeit products.

Fast forward to December 18, 2023, and the news is disheartening. Over ₦750 million worth of fake products were seized in Abia state, signaling a resurgence of the fake product cartels. 

In Lagos State, fake drug companies have faced repeated crackdowns, highlighting the persistent challenge that threatens the health and well-being of the Nigerian population.

The question arises: Can NAFDAC revive the legacy of the legendary Dora Akunyili and combat the resurgence of fake products in Nigeria? The current scenario calls for renewed efforts and strategic measures to tackle the evolving tactics of counterfeiters.

The fight against fake products demands continuous vigilance, and only by building upon the foundation laid by Akunyili can Nigeria hope to reclaim its victory over this persistent threat to public health and safety.

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