Consumerism is a phenomen on that is limited to the relationship of markets with their consumers. It is a term that have various meaning depending on who is directly involved. But to the consumers himself , it is an organized movement of consumers, government and concerned citizens aimed at protecting them from practices that infringe upon their rights . Generally, consumerism is a pro-marketing, spirited efforts by manufactures, consumers and government to protect consumer from the numerous exploitations arising from consumption of marketed goods/ services.
Protection from consumers was initially termed consumerism, that is protecting the interest of buyers of goods against defective, poor quality and dangerous products. However, current discourse and strict application of the term now associate consumerism prejoratively with the tendency of people to identify strongly with the products they consume with passion, especially goods with commercial brand.
Consumerism has been accumulating momentum for over 30years in U.S and Europe and its believers asserts that all consumers has a basic right to products that are safe in use, effective to its use, economical, reliable , honestly labelled and advertised ,They have been very proactive in seeing that the “Rights” of consumers are guaranteed either by the firms selling the products or by the government of the country.
The historical declaration of late president J.F Kenedy on 15th March 1962 when he enunciated the four basic consumer rights that needs to be protected (Rights To Safety, Rights To Choice, Right To Information And Right To Seek Redress) proves that consumers cannot determine the safety and quality of manufactured products on his own but has to rely on government to protect him, particularly in the absence of a direct contractual agreement between him and the manufacturer.
President Kenedy’s Landmark declaration was not only adopted by the United nations general assembly but was also expanded to include, Rights To Education, Right To Representation, Right To Basic Needs And Right To Healthy Environment. Thus in the United Nations guidelines for consumer protection as adopted 9th April 1985, member countries were called upon to develop, strengthen and maintain a strong and active consumer protection policy.
In Nigeria, successive governments made appropriate legal and institutional provisions for consumer protections and regularly up-graded the legal and enforcement provisions as political, scientific, technological and industrial development dictated. The up-grading of the health protection status over the years resulted in the establishment of the NATIONAL AGENCY FOR FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION AND CONTROL (NAFDAC) in 1992. NAFDAC assumed the prominence of the foremost consumer protection agency of government because the product it regulate are vital to the health, social and economic well being of the consumer. It primary objective is to promote and protect public health, and they are fully empowered to regulate the control of Importation, Exportation, Manufacture, Advertisement, Distribution, Sale And Use Of Drugs, Processed Foods, Bottled Water, Chemicals And Cosmetics in order to ensure that safe, quality drugs and related products are available to the public.
Drugs and related products proliferation is a global public health problem because the effect can be felt from both the country of manufacture to the recipient countries. Hence, national measures for combating them in the countries might be insufficient because of the advanced sophistication of those who manufacture and sells them (Bates, 2008).
Nigeria is not an exception in the problem of fake/counterfeit drugs till date. It poses a great danger to consumers and the society at large. Protecting consumers from fake drugs is one of the major tasks facing the countries. It is the greatest evil of our time and the highest weapon of terrorism against public health, as well as an act of economic sabotage. It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. The evil of fake drugs is worse than the combined scourge of malaria, HN/AIDS and armed robbery put together. This is because malaria can be prevented, HIV/AIDS can be avoided and armed robbery may kill a few at a time but fake/counterfeit drugs kills in mass, anybody can be a victim.
Fake/counterfeit drugs have embarrassed our health care providers and ended the confidence of the public on our health care delivery system. The development has led to treatment failures, organ dysfunctions/damage worsening of chronic diseases and death of many Nigerians. This situation become so bad that even when patients were treated with genuine antibiotics, they no longer respond due to resistance induced by previous intake of fake antibiotics.
Local drug manufacturing become unattractive due to unfair competition. Many multinational companies diverted and left Nigeria out of frustration e.g Sandoz, Boehringer, Boots etc. Made in Nigeria drugs were officially unaccepted in other West Africa countries eg Ghana, Sierra Leone etc.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In Nigeria, the pace at which business activities are increasing especially marketing of drugs is on the high side and knowing the expectation of a Nigeria business men, they are only concerned in making fast or quick profit, not minding the quality of their products and well being of their consumers.
Hence, the problem of marketing fake/counterfeit drugs have affected the credibility of the health care providers and ended the confidence of consumers on our health care delivery system. It is the greatest evil of our time and the highest weapon of terrorism against public health as well as an act of economic sabotage. It is an ill wind that blows nobody good.
Marketing of fake drugs have exerted very harmful effects on consumers resulting to illnesses, disabilities and even death, anyone can be a victim.
Some of the incidences have resulted even among children because most times consumers do not know the quality of what they are buying or taking. Again, the rate of illiteracy in Nigeria is very high that majority of consumers are virtually un-informed and even when they know about all these bad practices of marketers, finds it difficult or are not opportune as to where or whom to voice out their complaints and feelings.
This makes it imperative that there is need to intensity efforts in fake drugs eradification in Nigeria to enable consumers be more protected and also to educate and inform the public on the essence of consumer protection in order to join in the fight against it.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The objectives of the study includes the following:
- To find out the prospects and level of consumer protection movement in Nigeria.
- To bring out measures/tools that will help to support encourage/increase the intensity of the movement
- To enlighten the public more on their “Rights” against fake drug marketing.
- To highlight the impact of fake drug proliferation on consumers and economy at large.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS