I subscribed to e-mail alerts from the food and drug administration (FDA) of the United States recently, and ever since then, my mail box has become a battlefield for show of supremacy between FDA alerts and facebook notifications. This is just a show of how committed this parastatal is to protecting the lives of their citizens from unscrupulous and greedy businessmen. Alerts, mostly on consumables and supplements especially sexual enhancing formulas bordering on undeclared ingredients always have the day. That is to say, a sexual enhancing formula will claim to be wholly herbal but is laced with some chemicals that are known to produce such effect. This means the effect of the drug is actually due to the undeclared ingredient which may be illegal and not to the so called herbs it contains.
This is being done in USA where these manufacturers know that sophisticated equipment are at the disposal of FDA to detect such adulterations. How much more Nigeria where even the HPLC in NAFDAC’s lab is always dysfunctional and procurement of reference standards for analysis has become the duty of the applicant even after paying heavy dues. But the FDA remains relentless in their effort. They are presently upgrading their detection equipment to newest technologies to beat these mafia in their game. “The fear of the FDA is the beginning of wisdom” since their efficiency has made manufacturers to voluntarily declare and recall their products that have been found to be contaminated before the FDA gets wind of it, knowing the business and image implication.
I have heard people say some drug manufacturers in this country add cocaine or codeine to their paracetamol and will just label the drug as paracetamol. Drug experts will understand the implication of this if it is true. It could be dangerous especially where the hidden ingredient is contraindicated in the unsuspecting patient. I have been in a lab with a colleague who detected synthetic testesterone in a herbal formulation that claimed to be purely herbal. Who knows the extent of drug toxicity that can be attributed to undeclared ingredients.
I really would love to hear somebody from NAFDAC’s laboratory tell us what measures they take to detect hidden ingredients in consumables and drugs both herbal and orthodox. Last time I checked out their consumer alert page, it was that of the lead poisoning from bentonite clay and the particle-containing dextrose infusion which has been there since MAY that is still parading the site like a gold medalist on the Olympic medal stage. Many things must have passed under their bridge since May. I believe the FDA has more work to do than them but still manage to churn out alerts on daily basis. GOD HELP US!