The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says over 110 hand sanitiser production companies are currently operating in Nigeria following the advent of COVID-19 pandemic.
Its Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, made this known on Wednesday during a virtual meeting organised by the Lagos Business School Sustainability Centre.
The focus was: “LBS Sustainability Centre: COVID-19 in Africa and the Impact on Medical Products and Technologies: What We Know and What We should Be Doing.”
Adeyeye said when the pandemic started, it was a wild wind for the regulatory agency, because they were caught by surprise and everything stopped as they had to focus on COVID-19 pandemic.
She said: “There was complete lockdown in selected states of Lagos, Ogun and FCT; so, we had to quickly start using adaptive regulatory activities with only essential workers.
“There were too many things happening at the same time, but we had to expedite approval processes.
“We actually cut it down to 10 days instead of months that we had before.
“For alcohol-based hand sanitisers, there was intensification of submissions and approvals.
“In January 2020, we had about 21 hand sanitising companies in Nigeria before COVID-19, now we have over 110 hand sanitising companies registered in our data base.’’
According to her, 55 brands of hand sanitisers were issued emergency approval for use during the four weeks COVID-19 countrywide lockdown.
Adeyeye said that expedited approvals were being given, and NAFDAC could not inspect the sites because of lockdown, and because it was just at the beginning of the pandemic.
“We weren’t even prepared to get all the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed.
“However, we went into the market on surveillance, we had to go to open markets.
“ We started in Lagos, then spread across the country, because with the pandemic came unregistered hand sanitisers, falsified hand sanitisers.
“But, we did our due diligence in terms of both market surveillance which included mopping of many sanitisers from the market, doing laboratory testing to know the level of alcohol.
“There were some that had low levels of alcohol, and we mopped them from the market,’’ the NAFDAC director-general said. (NAN)