The Nigerian Pharmacist Who Invented Alabukun Drug 100 Years Ago

ALABUKUN is an indigenous brand that has persisted for 100 years in the most unlikely sector of trade for the average Nigerian: pharmacy. Alabukun powder a very popular drug in Nigeria, the world’s most populous black nation and in other West African nations. 100 years after, the brand remains one of the most resilient in Africa. Alabukun gained acceptance and widespread use without any considerable adverts. It is cheap, easily recognizable and available in most chemist shop in Nigeria.

This popular drug is an invention of Jacob Sogboyega Odulate aka Blessed Jacob (1884-1962), a Nigerian pharmacist, inventor and entrepreneur in 1918. He was originally from Ikorodu in Lagos State but later moved to the neighbouring Ogun State.  He was just 14 when he left Ikorodu, he trekked for three months before reaching Abeokuta to establish himself.

Jacob Sogboyega Odulate aka Blessed Jacob was a Nigerian pharmacist, inventor and entrepreneur. He invented Alabukun powder

The 1910s was a period of British colonialism. In spite of all the obstacles the English imperialists placed before the ‘natives’, Blessed Jacob was able to create this brand from what served as his consulting room and laboratory in Abeokuta, Ogun State, south-western Nigeria. Without any government support and facing immense obstacles from the British colonialists who controlled all the economy, Blessed Jacob managed to create a brand that has lasted a century.

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The Alabukun business has been passed down three generations, a great achievement for there is hardly any Nigerian indigenous business with such record. After the death of Blessed Jacob, the family business was taken over by his son, Wilberforce Olusegun Odulate (1933 – 2007), the founder of Kuramo Group. W. O. Odulate, who modernised the business and expanded the reach of the brand further to other parts of Nigeria, neighbouring countries and the United Kingdom. Presently, Alabukun powder is produced and marketed by Copac (Nigeria) Ltd. a subsidiary of Kuramo Group located in Lagos State, Nigeria, and run by 56-year-old, Rotimi Olukoyejo Odulate – the son of W. O. Odulate and grandson of Alabukun Jacob – who took over the Group in 2006.

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Alabukun Powder contains acetylsalicylic acid and caffeine as its active ingredients. A packet contains 760 mg of acetylsalicylic acid and 60 mg of caffeine making a total of 820 mg. Although many Nigerians use it as an over-the-counter drug primarily as a mild analgesic for headache and other simple infirmities, the application of Alabukun powder is actually more diverse than that. It is used for a host of ailment and these include migraine, prevention of blood clots, myocardial infarction, transluminal angioplasty, ischaemic attacks and stroke. It can also be used in the treatment, management or prevention of these conditions: toothache, sore throat and Neuralgias.

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The pharmacodynamics of Alabukun powder show that it functions by preventing the production of platelet aggregation and inhibits adenosine in the body. These functions reduce pain and allow the user to breath better by stimulating the brain and the heart.

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Like every drug, Alabukun powder must not be used for any of these conditions without recommendations from a medical doctor. And like order drugs, Alabukun can have side effects. The possible side effects that can result from taking Alabukun are swelling due to fluid accumulation, asthma, vomiting, nausea and vertigo.

Blessed Jacob also produced other brands like Alabukun mentholine, other preparations and an annual journal called Alabukun Almanac which was widely distributed in Abeokuta and eventually all over Nigeria between the 1920s and 1950s.


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