By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The House of Representatives on Tuesday called on the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria and other relevant government agencies to regulate Olonline advertising and drug sales in Nigeria.
The resolution of the House was in response to the motion of Hon. Onofiok Akpan Luke, Chairman, House Committee on Federal Judiciary.
Presenting the motion to the floor of the Green Chamber on Tuesday, the Hon. Luke said that given the false and exaggerated media and online drug advertising, members of the public are pressured to buy drugs ranging from dietary supplements, cholesterol-lowering drugs, painkillers including tramadol and l Viagra aspirin and other sex-enhancing drugs, some of which are unregistered and purchased without a doctor’s prescription or the advice of a pharmacist.
“Online advertising uses the Internet/online platforms as a means of delivering marketing messages to an identified and targeted audience, and is designed to persuade the targeted customer to engage in a specific action, including a purchase.
“Also notes that given its wide reach, online advertising has become increasingly important to business owners and service providers across the world, as it is more cost effective, provides measurability and reach unparalleled speed.
“Concerned that online vendors have taken advantage of free access to the internet and social media platforms to advertise and sell unregistered and sometimes counterfeit medicines to unsuspecting members of the public, thereby undermining danger to their health and well-being”, Hon. says Luke.
He said: “Realizing that given the false and exaggerated media and online advertising of drugs, members of the public are pressured to purchase drugs ranging from dietary supplements, cholesterol-lowering drugs, painkillers including tramadol and aspirin to Viagra and other sex-enhancing drugs, some of which are unregistered and purchased without a doctor’s prescription or the advice of a pharmacist.
“Also be aware that the law prohibits the advertising of drugs or related products without registration and without the advertising having the prior authorization and approval of an appropriate government agency.
“Knowing further that the law requires that the advertising of any drug or related product be accurate, complete, clear and designed to promote the credibility and confidence of the general public and healthcare practitioners, and that pharmaceutical products, in particular drugs that can cause death or serious injury, must have a special safety warning displayed in a box in the advertisement.
“Worried that some of the drugs are being sold without indication or warning of side effects, and members of the public who have purchased them have complained of developing symptoms of vomiting, stool, body weakness, severe body pain, swelling , shortness of breath, fainting, erectile dysfunction among others, forcing them to consult a doctor in hospitals,
“Also concerned that most medicines and related products advertised online do not meet the requirements and standards set by law and that their non-compliance exposes the public to serious health risks and dangers.
“Knowing that drug products should not state or imply in absolute terms or by quotation taken out of context that a drug product is safe or has guaranteed efficacy or special status, and that any advertisement that portrays a drug product as rapid, immediate, instantaneous, or rapid-acting description must be supported by studies based on the absorption rate of the drug product.
As a result of Luke’s motion, the resolute appellant from the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) is to liaise with online advertising companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc., to monitor, Effectively monitor and enforce advertising standards against advertisers and online drug sellers.
The Green Room also called on the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to arrest and prosecute illegal online drug advertisers and educate the public against the dangers of online purchase of unregistered and non-prescribed drugs.
The Chamber urged the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria to sanction and prosecute those who engage in the sale and promotion of drugs online without the required authorization under the law establishing the Council;
He also urged the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) to take the necessary steps to protect online drug users;
The House of Representatives has mandated its Health Services and Information Technology Committees to ensure compliance.