Cracking Down on Killer Drugs: Dora Akunyili and the Nigerian Success Story

Counterfeit and substandard medicines pose an increasing threat to global health, especially in the developing world. They kill hundreds of thousands--maybe millions--every year, undermine incentives for research and development for new drugs, and are even beginning to infiltrate North American markets.

What can national governments and concerned individuals do to combat this growing menace? Nigeria offers a powerful model. Prior to 2002, over half the medicines traded in Nigeria were thought to be counterfeit. Today, that number is under 20 percent and falling, a remarkable reversal that owes a great deal to Dora Akunyili. As director general of the country's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Akunyili has spearheaded a campaign emphasizing more aggressive policing and more rigorous commitment to prosecuting counterfeiters--and she has succeeded in cracking down on the deadly trade.

AEI, in association with the Heritage Foundation, will host Akunyili to discuss lessons learned and ways forward for other countries threatened by counterfeit drugs. Tom Woods of Heritage will introduce Akunyili, and her presentation will be followed by discussion moderated by AEI's Roger Bate, whose book, Making a Killing: The Deadly Implications of the Counterfeit Drug Trade (AEI Press), will be published in May.

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