Nigeria busts fake water for injection scam

The Nigerian authorities have arrested a man accused of producing counterfeit and potentially hazardous water for injection (WFI) products.

According to a National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) statement, Daniel Ezekwelu was arrested by Nigeria's Federal Task Force on Fake and Counterfeit on suspicion of producing fake WFI within two compounds at Ojoto village near Nnewi, Anambra state.

The finding harks back to a terrible situation more than a decade ago, when a study conducted when former NAFDAC director-general Dora Akunyili found that 147 out of 149 WFI samples taken from Nigerian hospitals were found to be non-sterile.

During the latest raid, two under-aged girls were discovered filling and sealing the fake WFI products in plain view of Ezekwelu, said NAFDAC, which added that the production took place between 8:00am and 3:00pm every day, with the finished products transported to market at night.

Items recovered during the raid included plastic containers, gas cylinders and packs of the fake water for injection labelled 'Sterilised water for injection BP' and claiming a manufacturing date of 2015 and expiry date of 2020. The labels claimed the WFI - packed as 100 x 10ml vials - was produced by Hossanna Laboratories Ltd, Surrey.

"The suspect made a useful statement to the police," according to NAFDAC, which said an investigation is ongoing.

NAFDAC's statement also details two other recent cases involving illicit copies of Peak milk – one of the leading milk brands in Nigeria sold by a FrieslandCampina subsidiary – and falsified Codrux Cough Syrup.

After a tip-off a transport vehicle containing several cartons of the Peak Milk products (batch numbers 28 2C; PD 04:16; BB 12:17) suspected of being counterfeit was intercepted and seized en route to Lagos. Further investigation led to the discovery and arrest of one Onyekachi Ikegwuonu, and investigations are continuing.

The cough syrup case involved Iyiowa man Ejike Okereke, who stands accused of adulterating 'Exploid' syrup with ethanol and passing it off as Codrux – which is sold by Onitsha drugmaker Alben Pharmaceutical Co – by adding fake caps and labels to bottles.

Okereke pleaded not guilty to the charges but has been remanded in custody until April 11.

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