Pharmacists under the aegis of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) have given reasons why the executive arm of the Federal Government of Nigeria led by President Muhammadu Buhari should urgently assent to the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN) Bill.
National Chairman of ACPN, Samuel Adekola, and National Secretary of ACPN, Abosede Idowu, in a joint statement said Presidential assent to the Bill would address the recent public health concerns with regards to the increasing challenges of drug abuse and misuse in Nigeria by ensuring stricter regulation and enforcement by the PCN on erring pharmacists and pharmaceutical industries.
According to the ACPN, for emphasis the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN) Bill 2017 should be assented to because it is very 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.
They said examples of such pharmacy regulatory laws in some Commonwealth nations include: General Pharmaceutical Council of Great Britain; Pharmacy Council of Ghana; Tanzania; Kenya; South Africa. Others, they said, are National Association of Boards of Pharmacy in United States of America (a wholly Government owned pharmacy regulatory body); and Pharmacy Council of Canada among others.
The community pharmacists said it is a statement of fact 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 among others are gradually being eliminated in these climes.
“This is the same purpose the new Pharmacy Council Bill is intended to achieve,” they said.
The pharmacists said another reason why the bill should be assented to is because one of the philosophies of the National Drug Policy 2005 is to guarantee that Nigerians have access to safe, efficacious and affordable medicines.
They explained: “This is a cardinal responsibility of every Government to its citizenry. One of the major benefit packages of PCN bill is that it opens a unique window of competence driven service rendition at all levels. The new satellite pharmacy concept gives us the prospects of additional pharmaceutical premises in hundreds of thousand range manned by registered pharmacist.
“The Bill provides that any pharmacist who has over ten 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 five thousand we currently have to over one hundred thousand 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.
“The enforcement of sales of medicines in only registered pharmacies and patent medicines stores by the PCN is the only way to permanently redress the menace of drug abuse and falsified drug syndrome in Nigeria. This has been prescribed by the Poison and Pharmacy Act.”
The ACPN also noted that the PCN Bill 2017 clearly prohibits sale of drugs in authorised 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.
The community pharmacists said the PCN bill in question has also removed all ambiguities with regards to offences and relevant commensurate sanctions applicable to all players.
This, they said, is particularly significant because owners of unregistered premises, those who sell products they are not legally licensed to sell and those who violate the condition precedence attached to their licensure will better appreciate the consequences of their unlawful endeavors and acts.