The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, or NAFDAC, sounded the alarm over the widespread use of illicit herbal intoxicants in the nation on Friday, warning that doing so poses a serious risk to the users' health.
The agency claimed that its findings from numerous operations showed a risky pattern in the consumption of such substances by the general public, notably among artisans, drivers, and okada riders, who use them in high concentrations of tobacco and occasionally cannabis.
In a press conference to that effect, NAFDAC Director General Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye stated that her organisation had started a nationwide crackdown on all illegal producers and distributors of the herbal preparations with the goal of bringing offenders to justice and reducing the use of the substance in the nation.
Kurkura, Gargle, Herbal Aphrodisiac, and alcoholic bitters were the names she gave the intoxicants.
Noting that “NAFDAC was established by Act Cap N1 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 to regulate and control the manufacture, importation, exportation, advertisement, distribution, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devises, bottled water, detergent and chemicals (referred to as regulated products)”, Prof. Adeyeye said: “Recently the agency has received series of report on the use of an herbal preparation popularly known as ‘Kurkura’ particularly in the South West and Northern axis of the country.”
”The agency swung into action and carried out intelligence and enforcement action.
“We have commenced a nationwide crackdown of all illegal manufacturers and distributors of these Herbal Preparations with a view to bringing perpetrators to book and minimize the usage of the substance.
“Findings from various operations carried out revealed a dangerous trend in the use of such substances laced with high concentration of tobacco and sometimes cannabis by our populace cutting across all genders and age groups particularly Artisans, Drivers, okada riders etc”,she said.
Adeyeye said,”The ‘Kurkura’ herbal preparations discovered in circulations included: Five Minutes Power Herbs Medicine; Haonu Laha Herbal Mixture; Gamzaki Tradomedical Herbal Ventures; Barakallahu Multipurpose Herbal Mixture and Sabon Karfi Herbal Mixture.”
“Among the above, only Haonu Laha Herbal Mixture is registered, nonetheless laced with unapproved substances that are injurious to the body,”she said.
The NAFDAC boss added that:”Among many others,Kurkura is an illicit product illegally consumed for the sole aim of getting intoxicated.”
“The substance when abused, can be harmful to the body organs such as the brain, kidney and liver. The damage to the kidney and liver cannot be overemphasized. This substance can cause irrational thinking, altered state of mind, which if taken by a driver can lead to road traffic accident with the attendant fatality consequences, or can lead to criminal behaviours such as rape, kidnapping and murder,”she said.
She said,”Another herbal preparation that is of concern is aphrodisiac and we have discovered the lacing of it with cannabis.”
“In our recent operation, we impounded the following dangerous herbal aphrodisiac at some Islamic Herbal Medicines shops in Zaria, Kaduna State: Gagare Man Power,Minister For Man Power,Almenjou For Lazy Men in Bed,Nisan Zango Karfin Maza,Shagalin Ka Man Power, Dakan Jia Man Power enhancement,Wuff Male Sexual Performance,Afafata For Sexual Drive etc,”she said.
Açcording to Adeyeye,”So far, one of the illegal factories involved in the production of such unauthorized products has been shut down and the owner arrested. “
She spoke further:”Worthy of note is the discovery of the usage of Hyergra 200(Sildenafil Citrate tablet), Amafranil tablets (Clomipramine tablet 25mg) and Cannon Extra (Paracetamol 500mg+Caffeine 30mg) in the production room. The owner admitted that he dissolves the Hyergra 200, Cannon Extra and the Amafranil in a drum and mixes the content with boiled Kanafari, Garlic, Dundu, Marke, Hankufa, Sweetner and Sodium Benzoate to make up the Man Power preparation. Yet the label on the preparation read 100%Herbal
“The effect of such preparation on person with heart challenges can only be imagined.
“The makers of these products were arrested and later granted bail. Investigation is ongoing.”
Speaking on alcoholic bitters, Adeyeye said,”An alcoholic bitters product that is of grave concern is Japata Alcoholic bitters which was duly registered by NAFDAC but laced with marijuana or cannabis compared to the registered product that had only ethanol.”
“Through intelligence, NAFDAC was able to shut down the company. This product when tested in the laboratory, caused the death of the mice within five minutes. The alcoholic content was doubled compared with the registered product. The retained samples, kept at the point of registration, did not cause any injury to the animals.
“The product laced with cannabis was said to cause altered state of mind and psychological problems to the user. The owner of the company is on the run and the matter has been shared with NDLEA,”she said.
She said NAFDAC “shall continue with the raid on other illegal production outlet and the perpetrators will be dealt with in line with the extant laws and regulations.”
“This drives home the fact that eradication of fake and counterfeit drugs, adulterated and unwholesome processed foods and other regulated products is a holistic battle which should involve every well -meaning Nigerian.
“I want to assure Nigerians that NAFDAC is doing everything to ensure that only safe medicine and wholesome food of the right quality are sold to our citizenry. I would also like to use this opportunity to solicit for the support of health practitioners, community leaders, religious leaders, the press and all stakeholders to continue to educate their wards and family members to desist from patronizing quacks and hawkers of medicines on the street. Let me also use the medium to thank the gentlemen and ladies of the press and civil societies for their support to NAFDAC in this regard.
“We further advise consumers of NAFDAC regulated products to be watchful of drug, food and other regulated products they purchase and should not hesitate to report any suspicious activities within their environment to the nearest NAFDAC office,”she further said.