The Scourge of Drug Fakers Strikes Back

This morning in Mal Maison, my cool and very dark Belfast hotel, I read the Independent, Britain’s fiercely liberal tabloid. I leaned into a spotlight in the dimly lit dining room and read a feature by Simon Usborne profiled “Doctor Dora” a brave Nigerian woman who is called ‘the scourge of drug fakers’ in her job as director of the food and drug administration there.

“When Prof. Dora Akunyili, 51, became director in 2001, up to 80 percent of drugs in Nigeria were fake. Lured by big profits and weak laws, criminals have switched from dealing in cocaine and guns to fake drugs. The professor’s sister died after taking fake insulin.

Her offices were burnt down, and she got death threats, and a bullet grazed her scalp when she left her fortified home to visit a village.

Dora was recognized in London after her public awareness campaign and a clampdown on corruption led to an 80 percent drop in the levels of fake drugs in Nigeria. “We are little people fighting with tiny hands,” she said.