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Pharmaceutical Company Sues Taskforce On Counterfeit Drugs

By on October 11, 2012

In a bid to redress the injustice alleged to have been meted out to them, two Directors of a pharmaceutical company, Mr. Samuel Ediu and Superintendent pharmacist, Alexander Ani Eton and their company, Edichart Investment Limited, have renewed their legal battle against Lagos State Taskforce on Counterfeit, Fake, Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Food in a N157 million suit field before a federal high court in Lagos, southwest Nigeria.

Others joined as co-defendants in the legal battle are Pharmacist Council of Nigeria, Pharmacist (Mrs.) G.O. Balogun, one Pharmacist (Mrs.) Adeoye and the Attorney-General of Lagos State.

In an amended statement of claim filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer, Barrister Ethel Onuoha on behalf of the plaintiffs, it was alleged that from 1992 to 2007 Edichart Investment Limited registered and was issued its premises licence for each of the years to sell, dispense, mix and compound drugs within its premises as a registered pharmaceutical outfit.

However, sometime in 2007, the Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Anthony Bola Oyewole, paid an unscheduled visit to the company and demanded to know whether the company had been licensed by the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, for the year 2007 and the plaintiff answered in affirmative. Thereafter, Bola Oyewole retorted assertively that Edichart Company licence for the succeeding year 2008 shall not be renewed.
Mr. Alexander Eton alleged that in 2008 he paid the renewal fees of N25,000 and further paid N20,000 he was ordered to pay for the purpose of routine inspection of the premises, but after the payment, the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria failed to issue a renewed premises licence to his company. Instead, a licensing officer demanded that their shop located at 23, Olorunlogbon Street be partitioned and converted it to a wholesale premises despite the fact that their shop and premises had been previously partitioned, even after complying with the order, the renewal licence was not issued.

Again, in 2009, the plaintiff paid for renewal fees and yet the renewal licence was not issued, to the extend of building their permanent site at 54, Olorunlogbon Street, Anthony village, Lagos with fully knowledge, for relocation, inspection and approval of their new location by the pharmaceutical council and its chairman, Pharmacist Familusi Abiodun Olanrewaju.

After the completion of the new site with permission and supervision of the Pharmaceutical Council, the inspection team who did not enter into the company’s new location and did not inspect the facilities later reported to the Pharmaceutical Inspection Committee that the company’s new site location was not registrable, and while the renewal fees of the company were paid for years 2010, 1011 and 2012 respectively, the licence of the company was not renewed.

However, on 20 May, 2010, Pharmacists, G.O. Balogun, Mrs. Adeoye, Familusi Abiodun Olanrewaju and Anthony Bola Oyewole in company with Mr. Luke Adeeko, Samuel Onoja, Pharmacist Afuye, Anieh Felix, anieh Akwuewe and armed policemen, invaded the Edichart Pharmacy shop at 54, Olorunlogbon Street, Anthony Village and carted away ethical drugs in several rice sacks, one multi links land line telephone, and pharmacist Alexander Ani Eton’s practising license for 2010 and the premises licence for 2007.

The plaintiffs averred that the defendants, majority of whom are pharmacists, were selective in the drugs they carted away from the company as they painstakingly spotted ethical and expensive drugs worth several millions of naira. The inventory of the drugs carted away was not taken.
Seven days after the invasion, the plaintiffs were summoned to appear before a panel of inquiry comprising Mrs. G.O. Balogun, Mrs. Adeoye, Lanre Familusi and Taiwo Familusi. They were then shown a contravention notice and alleged to have committed the following offences: selling and displaying for sale, drugs and medical consumables in a place not duly licensed or registered, resisting and obstructing taskforce members in the execution of their duty, carrying out pharmaceutical business outside the direct personal control and management of the superintendent pharmacist and training pharmacy students as wholesale premises.

The plaintiffs duly denied and answered all the allegations against them and thereafter appealed severally to unseal their company and release their annual premises renewal licence, but they were ordered to pay N500,000 administrative fine, swear to an affidavit to desist from carrying out malpractices in their premises, write and sign an undertaking forfeiting their drugs worth over N30 million carted away by the defendants on the ground that they have been burnt, to absolve the defendants from any blame and the shut down of their pharmacy shop within 14 days of the written undertaking.

The plaintiffs refused to pay the fine, neither did they sign any undertaking. Instead, the plaintiffs wrote a petition to the registrar of Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria and copied the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, the governor of Lagos State and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Lagos State.

After the attack and sealing off of the plaintiffs’ company on 20 May, 2012, the defendant proceeded to publish the attack and seal off on 7 June, 2010 in some national daily newspapers.

On 1 June, 2010 the defendant contended that the licence of the company was not renewed because the company’s location was close to an existing pharmacy shop, which is not less than 200 metres from the company’s new location.
The company was unsealed on 5 August, 2010 after the intervention of the Commissioner of Health, Lagos State.

In view of these scenario, the plaintiffs, while claiming the sum of N157,650,000 against the defendants as general damages, loss of income and business for 317 days and value of drugs carted away by the defendants, are also urging the court to restrain the defendants from further attacks and carting away of their drugs.





Source: PM News