The Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) has called on the Federal Government to address the poor medicines prescription quality, dispensing rights and the high cost of drugs so as to ensure the safety of Nigerian consumers.
ACPN made the call in a letter addressed to the Presidency, which was signed and made available to the media by Adewale Oladigbolu, national chairman and Ashore Omokhafe, national secretary of ACPN respectively.
According to the letter titled ‘Current situation of prescription practices in Nigeria’, the sale of drugs in Nigeria is ravaged by a departure from the global norm in many respects.
Explaining further the letter reads: “In Nigeria today, there are only about 6000 registered pharmacy facilities in the various cadres of practice, including retailers, wholesale, importation and manufacturing. Of this number, less than 4000 are retailers who provide services directly to the consuming public.
“It is a statement of fact that while there are less than 4000 registered retail pharmacies; there exists over a million different drug sellers who are unregistered. It is this plethora of illegal drug sellers that perpetrate most of the obnoxious and dirty practices in drug distribution in Nigeria.”
However, ACPN in the letter assumed that doctors in Nigeria are unlawfully supplying medicines in both the public and private segments in the country.
ACPN also claimed that doctors are not trained to dispense drugs, and therefore, they are part of the problems of drug abuse and misuse as well as the inherent complications of this unwholesome development.
The health organisation blamed physicians of procuring drugs they use in practice in open markets and the scores of unregistered wholesalers, presumably because the drugs are cheaper, through their hospital facilities.
“In this way, they sustain some of the illegalities associated with drug distribution in Nigeria,” it added.
In addition it sated that keeping and providing pills in unlawful facilities is conflicting to the provisions of Cap PCN 2022 and the Fake Drug Act, which prohibits the sales and dispensing of drugs in unregistered pharmacy facilities.
However, it alleged that the usually widely publicised activities of state regulatory authorities for the private hospital have never indicted any of these hospitals for violating relevant drug laws.
The letter further reads, “Every health system hinges its drug flow patterns on the use of well-trained professionals who anchor prescribing and dispensing endeavours.
“In Nigeria, because drug matters are on the exclusive list, prescribing and dispensing of medicines can only be regulated by Federal authorities. The Poison and Pharmacy Act (PPA) and the National Drug Policy are regulatory tools of the National Assembly and the Federal Ministry of Health, respectively, to modulate prescribing and dispensing today in Nigeria.
“There were existing recommendations that all medicines in the Nigerian drug market be classified before the year 2008 by National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control. (NAFDAC)
“The classes that were recommended under the coordination of the NAFDAC by representatives of the relevant care providers include Prescription Only Medicines (POM), Pharmacist Initiated Medicines (PIM), and Over-the-Counter Medicines (OTC).”
ACPN condemned what it described as the phenomenon of dispensing doctors and prescribing pharmacists as perhaps a peculiar feature of the health sector in Nigeria.
It noted that ACPN’s position aligns with that of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) stressing that poor drug regulation constitutes a hindrance towards responsible healthcare delivery.
To ACPN, the International Pharmaceutical Federation (IFP) guidelines on Good Pharmacy Practice (GPP) should be the minimum standard for dispensing medication to Nigerians.