By Sola Ogundipe
Worried by the increasing challenges of drug abuse and misuse in Nigeria, pharmacists under the aegis of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, ACPN, have pleaded with President Mohammadu Buhari to assent to the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria Bill 2017 in the interest of Good Pharmacy Practice in the country.
Making the urgent plea through a jointly signed letter, the ACPN National Chairman, Pharm. Samuel Adekola, and National Secretary, Pharm Abosede Idowu, said: “The ACPN appeals to the Federal Government to heed this clarion call to engender a new agenda of productivity, professionalism, self-sufficiency in local production and regulatory excellence in the pharma-sector. These achievements will change the narratives and place the pharma-sector in good stead to contribute to National Gross Domestic Products (GDP).
In the plea addressed to the executive arm of the Federal government to facilitate assent of the bill, the ACPN affirmed that the Bill is consistent with similar laws in the Commonwealth League of Nations, where regulatory laws and statutes have become very sacred in keeping pace with the norms and ethos of public health.
Citing examples of pharmacy regulatory laws in some of the Commonwealth nations, they noted that many less endowed African nations have today polished their pharmacy laws to meet global best practices such that the terminal consequences of poor statutes, weak enforcement, and so on which engender easy access to drugs to promote the vicious cycle of drug abuse and misuse, falsified drug syndrome etc are gradually being eliminated in these climes. “This is the same purpose the new Pharmacy Council Bill is intended to achieve. One of the philosophies of the National Drug Policy 2005 is to guarantee that Nigerians have access to safe, efficacious and affordable medicines. This is a cardinal responsibility of every government to its citizenry.” In the plea, the ACPN explained that a major benefit package of the PCN bill is that it opens a unique window of competence driven service rendition at all levels.
“The Bill provides that any pharmacist who has over 10- year post-qualification experience can own a satellite pharmacy not withstanding his primary practice option. What this does is that professional service points in pharmacy will increase from about 5,000 we currently have to over 100,000 in Nigeria.
“These satellite pharmacies in turn have mandate to provide oversight in a manner of hub and spoke model over the Patent and Proprietary Medicines Vendors thereby improving their regulation.”
ACPN observed that enforcement of sales of medicines in only registered pharmacies and patent medicines stores is the only way to permanently redress the menace of drug abuse and falsified drug syndrome in Nigeria.
“The ACPN PCN Bill 2017 clearly prohibits sale of drugs in authorized places such as open drug markets, this in essence is in tandem with the National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG) which is the official Government tool structured to impose decorum in the unwieldy drug distribution channels which Nigeria currently contends with. “Today as it stands government moves to replace the unlawful open market structures with Coordinated Wholesale Centers (CWC) need to be grounded in lawful templates which the PCN bill guarantees. The responsibilities of the critical stakeholders and in particular our regulators like PCN, NAFDAC, NDLEA as well as police will automatically be enhanced once all the necessary reforms are formalised.”
ACPN argued that the PCN bill has removed all ambiguities with regards to offences and relevant commensurate sanctions applicable to all players.
“Flowing directly from above, the PCN bill particularly compels pharmacists to show more responsibility in their professional practice while also having the unique feature of unhindered empowerment as all professionals and their cadres of practice are registered as distinct legal entities.”
They said the PCN bill presents a robust broad spectrum structure that can work maximally in the interest of the pharma-sector to enhance service delivery at all times.
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