Consumer Protection and Drug Marketing in Nigeria

Consumer Protection and Drug Marketing in Nigeria

Origin of Consumer Protection –  Drucker made his point thus, “that if after twenty years of marketing rhetoric consumerism could become a powerful movement proves that not much marketing has been practiced.  Consumerism is the shame of marketing (Drucker P. 1973: 64 – 65). Before proceeding, it is advisable to define consumerism to relate it to Drucker’s opinion.  Consumer can be described as price, performance and quality consciousness among the buying public, as indicated by consumer council, consumer’s associations and others includes criticism of misleading or unjustified advertising, claims, especially, in the USA” (Jefkinsf 1973 : 20).

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According to Philip Kotler:  put simply, consumerism is an organised movement concerned citizens and government to enhance the right and power of buyer I relation to sellers what Drucker, is trying to put across by calling consumerism the shame of marketing” is that if the marketing concept were really practiced by marketing organizations, there would have been no need for organizations to be formed specifically to fight for the right of consumers, rights which a marketing oriented economy would have needed no reminding or twisting of the arm no matter how mild to guarantee.

But the question is, would customer right organization and consumerists ever back off even when much consumer’s rights are guaranteed?   It is a fact of human life that we will always strive for something better, (No matter how much guarantee is given to consumer rights, there will still be those who are not satisfied) the problem is not consumerism per-se consumerism would not be considered the “shame of marketing”.

There is, however, a second more disturbing question about the marketing concept one that question it’s validity rather that its practice, many criticism have come out with articles which essentially question the validity of the marketing concept.   Article have appeared in the USA with such titles as, the faltering marketing concept and societal adaptation:          A new challenge Lantance P 1971 5460).

These articles essentially raise the question of whether the marketing concept is any longer an appropriate organization all goal in an age of environmental deterioration.  Resource shortage, explosive population growth, worldwide inflation and neglected social services.

Marketing concept is a philosophy that holds consumer satisfaction as the central focus of all marketing activities.   It upholds the sovereignty of the consumers in directing the flow of product we and marketing process.   It enjoins that consumers wants and needs be the starting point for product and marketing planning.

Consumer protection is increasingly becoming a topical issue in Nigeria.   The Nigerian consumer is constantly abused but has permanently remained unresponsive to various forms of trade malpractices dished out by sellers and producers here, in Nigeria marketing is still being practiced in isolation of the marketing concept.  Consumer rights have been ignored in what Nwokoye (1981) called seller’s market in Nigeria.   The consumer are still not organised to protect their right.   Henry, Assael (2nd Edition, page 6721) is of the opinion that the consumer movement has failed to establish the countervailing force to big business which the labour union established for it’s workers.   The reasons for the failure being that consumer are difficult to organised and represent because of the diversity of their interest the result if that they are still in a disadvantaged position in relative to the seller or producers.

Many laws have been passed to improved the lost of the consumers, but they remain violated and consumer still remain at the mercy of producer and seller.  The consumer is viewed as the weaker of the two forces and requires the intervention of a third part/government to survive.   The forces against the consumer in Nigeria include ignorance, poor education lack of interest and willpower etc.

Ignorance is as a result of high illiteracy level in Nigeria.  But it is noteworthy that even the educated ones may know their right but lack the will power to protest (Moneke 1980).

The free enterprises economy also is not favourable to most consumers.   This is because in a free enterprise system it is believed that survival of the fittest is the name of the game to arrive this situation, various governmental and organization have made noticeable effort to protect consumers wherever they may be for instance, the late U.S president J.F Kennedy in his declaration to the U.S congress in March 1962 gave four basic consumer rights.

Namely:

a)                 The right to safety

b)                The right to be informed.

c)                 The right to choose and

d)                The right to be heard

The (IDCU) has added four more rights of consumer.

1)                The right to satisfaction of basic needs

2)                The right to redress

3)                Right to consumer education

4)                The right to healthy environment.

BASIS FOR CONSUMER PROTECTION

As was pointed out earlier, allegations of corporate abuses in the market place have prompted for the call for more laws and for consumer protection.   Such allegations are wide, varied and overwhelming, ranging from deceptive advertising messages, adulterated products to improper packaging and labeling and so on.  

The consumer is seen as a hopeless victim of the highly professional modern business.   The objects of their manipulation, bornbard with a stream of advertising messages which are highly persuasive and sometimes, misleading and untrue products which the consumers are exposed to are sometimes injurious and all too often do not conform with the claimed performance on the label.

For instance, the leading and challenging soft drink industries have from time to time engaged in aggressive promotion without giving a host of what happens to the consumers.   It will be recalled that not quite long the Diabetic Association of Nigeria stopped one of these industries from continuing it’s promotion because of the adverse effect the high sugar intake has in the body of the consumers.

In the open market the consumer is confronted with bewildering array of brands and sizes of products which makes rational decision impossible.   Large economy.  Sizes sometimes prove to be more expensive per unit of a products than smaller sizes products quality fall while price keep moving up.   It is noteworthy that some products are effectively bags of mystery. They do not reveal their ingredients, or indicates their proportionate significance in any way which would for example, enable the nutritive value to be assessed.

These development have given rise to increase fearing for consumer protection.  As Okeke (Onah 1979) observed – consumer protection has not previously been viewed as a highly important element in marketing strategy for it generally has not been considered to figure a strategically in the consumer purchasing decision.   However, times have changed the present day consumer is more sophisticated and will not be satisfied with half-hearted efforts and promises.   Unlike those in the past, he is likely to compare promises and performance and if no satisfied take action accordingly.

MARKETING CONCEPT ON CONSUMER

          There is a great deal of controversy in the marketing literature as to whether the existence of consumer connotes indictment of the marketing concept or whether the two concepts bear no relationship.

Marketing concept is a philosophy that holds consumer satisfaction as the central focus of all marketing activities.   It upholds the sovereignty of the consumer in directing the flow of productive and marketing processed it enjoys that the consumers wants and  needs be the starting point for products and marketing planning.   The basic assumption is that the corporate profitability is inextricably tied to how well a company has succeeded in pleasing and satisfying it’s customers.   In other words of Kotler, marketing concept calls for a customer orientation backed by integrated marketing aimed at generating satisfaction as the key to attaining long-run profit volume.

As attractive as the concept looks, there have been doubts as to its operationality. Corporate abuses in the market place, alleged.  Lapses in the areas of rigid prices, products adulterations and sub-standards products deceptive practices are probably manifestation of the American environment where the concept originated, Drucker (1973) argues that “after twenty years of marketing rhetoric’s consumerism could not become a powerful popular movement proves that not much marketing has been practiced…consumer is indeed the shame of marketing”.

Onah (1970 P. 127) took a different position and argued that if marketing concept is conceptualized as a philosophy of business or a way of life.   It has not failed.   He rests his case on misunderstanding arguing that lack of comprehension of a concept.   The problem he says, is that of communication because in the marketing information process the marketing intelligence focuses mainly on the competitors and on the buyer behaviour thus by – passing the consumer.

Nwaneri (1989) referring to Burskirk et al accepted that marketing concept and consumer are incompatible and that if consumer exist then marketing concept has not worked.  However, they concluded by cautioning that consumer may infact be the result of prostitution of the marketing concept rather than a malfunction of it.

Be that as it may, our stand is that whatever the philosophical and ideological justification for the marketing concept within the Nigeria framework, it remains a mere theoretical postulate.   The Nigerian consumer is no king in the market place, productive and marketing processed are not responsive to his wishes because his market is not a buyer market instead, the market system reflects the designs and desires of the producers and the level of corporate profitability is tied how skillful the producer/sellers is rather than how satisfaction the consumer is with the total package of offering.

THE NIGERIAN MARKETING SCENE

          One does not need to be an authority to recognize the facts that there is a complete lack of the study of consumer behaviour in the Nigeria marketing scene.   The study of consumer behaviour help to develop the ability to understand why individual purchase what they do and how purchasing beheviour influences and is influenced by various members of the society.   The manufacturers, intermediaries and those who engage in other businesses are the one the society regards as the marketing practitioners.   It is disheartening to know that these agent operate in a seller’s market meaning that they make no attempts to match products to customers needs.   The disappointing thing, in the long-run is that no noticeable efforts  is make to try the study or know the consumers.   The Nigerian consumer is in, nearly, all assess taken for granted.   His needs are always believed to be known by the suppliers his wants are decided on within some four walls among a collections of several money minded non-descript faces.   The fact that the supplier can get away with this types of myopic approach to the needs and want of the consumers confirms the facts that the Nigerian marketing system when compared with those of most advanced societies is still in it’s embryo stage.

In Nigeria, we still practice “selling concept instead of the marketing concept, this is because consumers do not get their required satisfaction from the goods and service they bought.  The satisfaction revolves around the four marketing mix variables – sound quality of the product, at mensurate and affordable price in the right form and at the required time and place.

Let use for example how politics is being practiced in Nigerian.   The politicians do not make any conscious efforts to discover the real needs and desires of the people, as is the case in advanced societies during their political campaign and tours.  All we hear about is what they will do for the electorate and not what the electorate would want them done.   It is surprising though to see that inspite of all these problems in marketing system, the sellers and producers still sell their products.   This would either be because of:

1)                Lack of suitable substitutes for the offering

2)                The increasing purchasing power of Nigerians ignited by the oil boom and Udoji Awards in the seventies and

3)                The value system which pervades our society most recently.

Most management executives in Nigerians are not worried about improving efficiency of strategy and tactics, proper evaluation of market opportunities, proper mapping out of target to serve, or improving retailing performance in a way that will also benefit the consumers. They believe that there are customers to buy off what they have produced as much as make-up for those who did buy.

To a real marketing oriented body, on the contrary, the issue discussed above is very disheartening.   Be that as it may, some noticeable trend in the society show that both the consumers and the government haven taken cognizance of the impending danger if the Nigerian marketing system is not checked.

Most reputable institutions are offering marketing education so as to be able to produce individual that are well versed in relevant marketing philosophy.   Slowly but surely, the literacy level of the country is increasing and this goes to mean that a literate and intelligent person would find it easier.

(All things being equal) to:

i)                   Understands his rights

ii)                Demand them and

iii)              Ask question if he does not get those rights.

Though consumerism is still very far from being practiced in Nigerian system, it is hoped that the increase in the level of literacy will help to bring it about.  Government, on the other band, is determined to provide improved communication and transportation facilities which will enable the aggrieved consumers to air their grievances.

CONSUMER PROTECTION IN NIGERIA

          Consumer protection is increasingly becoming a topical issue in Nigeria.   The Nigerian consumer is constantly abused.   But has permanently remained unresponsive to various forms of trade malpractices dished out by sellers and producers.   Here, in Nigeria marketing is still being practiced in Isolation of the marketing concept.   Consumer’s rights have been ignored in what Nwokoye (1981) called seller’s market in Nigeria.   The consumers are still not organised to protect their rights.  Henry Assael (2nd Edition, page 6721) is of the opinion that the consumer movement has failed to establish the countervailing force to big business which the labour union established for it’s workers.  The reasons for the failure being that consumer are difficult to organize and represent because of the diversity of their interest.   The result is that they are still in a disadvantaged position in relative to the seller or producer.

Many laws have been passed to improved the lost of the consumers, but they remain violated and consumer still remain at the mercy of producer and sellers.  The consumer is viewed as the weaker of the two forces and requires the intervention of a third part (government) to survive.   The forces against the consumer in Nigeria include ignorance, poor education lack of interest and willpower etc.   ignorance is as a result of high illiteracy level in Nigeria.   but it is noteworthy that even the educated ones may know their rights but lack the will power to protest (Moneke 1980).

The free enterprises economy also is not favourable to most consumers.   This is because in free enterprise system it is believed that survival of the fittest is the name of the game to arrest this situation, various government and organization have made noticeable effort to protect consumers wherever they may be.

For instance, the late U.S president J.F Kennedy in his declaration to the U.S congress in March 1962 gave four basic consumer rights namely.

a)                 The right to safety

b)                The right to be informed

c)                 The right to choose and

d)                The right to be heard.

To these, the International Organization of Consumer Union (IOCU) has added four more rights of consumer.

1)      The right to satisfaction of basic needs.

2)                 The right to redress

3)                 The right to consumer education

4)                 The right to healthy environment.

 

(1)     The Right to Safety:     This means that consumer ought to be protected against product, productions processes and services which are injurious to health and life for example some product like cleaning reagents and chemicals which are hazardous to health should have a safety instruction for the protection of the lives of those who use them in work place.

(2)     The Right to Informed Here, the Consumer:   Here, the consumer has the right to be given the facts to make informed choices and be protected against dishonest or misleading, Advertisement, labeling and other practices, companies are required to more fully, informed consumer of price, product performance and the ingredients of their products.

3)      The Right to Choose:   It means that the consumer has enough brand alternatives available to enable selection of satisfactory brand. The ultimate goals is a satisfied consumer and consumer satisfaction requires the ability to evaluate alternatives in the market place consumerists argue that large corporation tend to restrict choice by discouraging market entry.   This is made possible by engaging in heavy promotion, thereby making competitive entry more difficult for smaller companies and restricting choice the more.   An example that readily comes to mind is coca-cola.

THE RIGHT TO BE HEARD:           Consumers ought to have their interests represented in the making and execution of government policies, and in the development of products and services example, the resent increase in NEPA charges, telephone bill petroleum products price and other.   This is made possible with the help of MAMSER DIRECTORATE in Nigeria which informs the consumers of governments intending policies actions.

 

SOME FORMS OF CONSUMER PROTECTION IN NIGERIA

Attempts to protect the consumers in Nigeria have some from four major source namely GOVERNMENT, organizations/Associations, journalistic exposes and individual consumers (Onah 1979 … 126):  some writers have included consumer protection in Nigeria; we shall discuss the role of each of these parties.

1.       GOVERNMENT: There are some government agencies, ministries and department which in one way or the other take measures aimed at protecting consumers.  Some of these organs include the ministry of Health and some Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON).

(a)     MINISTRY OF HEALTH:         It has been the responsibility to set up minimum and acceptable standard for food and drugs it also undertakes campaigns to inform the public on the dangers inherent in the consumption of certain products.   The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) department and the department of pharmaceutical service have recently been merged the ministry has from time to time closed some drugs forms and pharmaceutical companies that are involved in flooding Nigeria markets with fake drugs.

(b)     STANDARD ORGANISATION OF NIGERIA (SON) The oranisation ensures that products conform to specified standard and the companies producing these products are given the right to use the sign (NIS) sign on them being sold in the markets.

2.       ORGANIZATION/ASSOCIATION: Many organizations have been set up concerned citizens with or without the active support of the government to protect consumer and fight for their right (Adirika and Ebue (1987) we have such organization/association as the consumer association in Lagos, the Enugu Consumer Movement, Tenants Association and others.  Some of the objectives of these organizations and/or association (Onah, 1979) are:

a)                 To review the position of the consumer in relation to sellers and producers.

b)                To explore ways and means of checking the perennial scarcity created by unscrupulous traders.

c)                 To curb the ever-rising prices and provides consumers, create inflation, and,

d)                To promote consumer education and provide consumers with information on various consumer issue.   The operation of these organizations/associations are yet to be felt in the society.   But with time and increase in the level of literacy and government commitment to protecting consumer right, more concrete result will be achieved.

3.       JOURNALISTIC EXPOSES:  Media organization have a very important parts to play in consumers protection.   Some Newspapers and magazines have special pages devoted to consumer issues, so also are radio and television station which devote special time for consumer affairs.   The consumer pages in the times and Guardians newspapers inform the consumers about product quality and standards.   They also perform their role by reporting allegations of marketing wrongdoing and highlighting needed or attempted reforms.   The standards organizations of Nigeria (SON) has it’s own journals where its inform consumers all they need to know about it’s functioned.

4.       INDIVIDUAL CONSUMERS:         Consumers are becoming more educated and sophisticated than before and as much less willing to accept the exaggerated salesmanship and shoddy products.   This is made possible through the efforts of the governments by promoting mass education and adult education to enhance consumer.   Protection through the MAMSER Directorate.   The Directorate organizes lectures, seminars, workshops and symposia for the public to increase general awareness of the masses.

SOME LAWS THAT ENHANCE PROTECTION

          From what we have said so far about consumer protection.   It will be observed that consumer in developed countries are very forceful and vocal.   There tends to be a consensus of opinion that their legal system have widest possible tentacles hence corporate bodies are always on their toes with regards to Nigeria.   It is so glaring that consumers are neglected not on an account of inadequate legal protection but because consumer themselves are not well informed.   The few that are informed tends to be apathetic.

Most of the serious attempt to protect consumer and ensure their welfare come from legislations enacted by the federal and state government.

Some of them are:-

(a)     HIRE PURCHASE LAWS:       The law was to protect consumer interest by enabling them to buy goods they cannot afford to pay for in-one installment.  These laws have been abused a lot in the past and even recently by sellers.  Sellers charge too exorbitant interest for the installments payment made by the buyer the size the goods when the buyer reneged the contract times and also pressurie buyers to sign agreement for goods buyers cannot afford to pay for in one installment.   As a result of the abuses the Nigerian government in 1975 adopted the English hire purchase.   Act of 1964, the act as amended in1976 provides the opportunity for the hirer to end the agreement or contract whenever he so desired without being charged or made to pay extra as punishment.  The act also limits or controls the power of the seller to seize the goods from the hirer.

(b)     THE SALE OF GOODS DECREE:    This law is very wide and all embracing as far as consumer interest and protection are concerned hence it is popularly referred to as consumer charter.   It stipulates that the goods sold must be of a quality fit for their normal purposes.   This law is being violated every day and the government’s efforts to enforce it have little or no effect.   Many sellers are selling fake drugs or products for genuine ones and most products adulterated, examples ranges from food items to hair and body products and a host of others.

(c)      THE WEIGHTS AND MEASURES DECREES: This states that household products and pre-packaged food must show their net weight or quality on the label securely attached to it.  Also certain common household item such as tea, sugar, butters and so on must be packaged in standard, seizes and weights.   It is common, however, to find meat and fish sellers bread makers and other sellers of other items violating this law in the market place.

(d)     FOOD AND DRUGS DECRE:           This law is aimed at ensuring that food and drugs are manufactured, processed, preserved packaged, and stored in a hygienic manner and also properly described. Dirty and unhygienic surrounding is common with most of our food markets and eating places.  A visit to any of the slaughter house will tell the story.

(e)      TRADE DESCRIPTION DECREE: This makes it an offense to describe your offering goods, services or any thing of value offered for sale) falsely whether in words or in picture.   This law is abused by many drugs peddlers and hawkers of various items, many never disclose the side effects of their products.   Examples are the Dogaman drugs hawkers who jump in and out of town service buses shouting their wares.   Inspite of these laws and institutions for consumer protection, the average Nigerian consumer remains unprotected.   He is still at the mercy of “sharp” practices of the seller.

To arrest this ugly situation, the Federal Military Government under General Sani Abacha in 1995 Annual Budget made provision for the establishment of Consumer Protection Council.   This was in the bid to enhance the quality of life of the citizens and to protect the Nigerian consumers from the exploitations and excessive pricing mechanism employed by middlemen and would-be abusers of the liberalization measures introduced in the budget.

The council is intended to place the consumer in a position of strength vis-à-vis the market for the first time.   Its wide ranging powers include the authority to cause offender to replace hazardous product with safer and more appropriate alternatives.  There abound unacceptable practices which have envolved in recent years in the advent of middlemen who interpose themselves between wholesaler and retailers thereby causing inflated market place.   The council will also ensures that these parasitic activities are removed from our market system as well as provide redress to the obnoxious practices of unscrupulous companies and middlemen.

This steps, no doubt, is good and bold one too by the government in pursuance of quality of life for all Nigerians:  The fact still remains that it is always easy to take a horse to the stream but more tasking to force to drink.   Let this idea not be handled like other good idea that die natural deaths as soon as those who put them forwards leave office.

The government should endeavour to enforce it to the letter by allowing the individuals, who know that consumer protection is all about to be members of the council.

These agencies and protection laws are not perculiar to Nigerian alone.   They are also present in many other nations of the world in different forms.   In American for instance, there are a number of Federal Regulatory Agencies and laws designed to provide consumers safety.   Some examples are Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Food and Drug Administration and others.

The important thing about these laws is for them to be implemented so that the consumer will benefits from them.

THE ROLE OF NAFDAC IN ENSURING CONSUMER PROTECTION

          The National Agency for food and Drugs Administration and control.

(NAFDAC) is a body set up or establish to safe guard the health of the nation.   This government Agency have done much in Eliminating the bad elements in drugs and food processing industries in Nigeria.

Since over the years, the Nigerian consumer has been subjected to various forms of trade malpractices by the producers/sellers.  The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDA) has done so many things for the consumer end users, and Nigeria by removal of bad quality or inferior products, adulterated goods, excessive and exploitative pricing system and inefficient distribution system the existence of fake and substandard drugs in our pharmacies and chemist stores.

 

SOME OF THE PROMINENT ROLE PLAYED SINCE THE ESTABLISHMENT.

1)                Standardizing the food or drugs produced and imported into Nigeria.

2)                Food processing industries is adequately supply safe consumption food or related consumption product eg satchet waters.

3)                They also played a good role in eradicating substandard or inferior, adulterated fake products supplied in the country.

4)                They also ensures that producing of some hard or harmful drugs or material are eliminated in Nigeria such as hard drugs heroine are discouraged.

—-This article is not complete———–This article is not complete————

This article was extracted from a Project Research Work Topic

CONSUMER PROTECTION AND DRUG MARKETING IN NIGERIA (A CASE STUDY OF JUHEL PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY ENUGU)”

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Consumer Protection and Drug Marketing in Nigeria

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Comments

  1. Olaolu Onibonoje says:

    Please i am interested in knowing whether MDDC and SDDCs actually took off on the 1st if July ?And where are the open drug markets in Nigeria located ?

  2. Thank you for this contributio.

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