• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Community pharmacists want Tinubu to cancel ban on importation of medical consumables, others

Fake drugs overrun regulators, endangers Nigerians

Health group under the umbrella of the
Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) has called on President Bola Tinubu to cancel the ban on importation of medical consumables and devices as well as drugs in Nigeria by the Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, Tunji Alausa.

In a letter to the Presidency titled, ‘A need for a Presidential redress of the gaffe by Tunji Alausa,’ the pharmacists described the ban as a step in the wrong direction, adding that if it is not annulled, it would lead to monopoly and stock-outs in the supply value chain of syringes in the country.

Read also: Haastrup: STOAN backs NDLEA in fight against importation of hard drugs

The health association affirmed that the ban would also sabotage efforts made by the Federal Government over the years to sanitise the nation’s open drug market.

The letter was co-signed by the ACPN National Chairman, Adewale Oladigbolu and the National Secretary, Ashore Omokhafe.

The group recalled that HMSH&SW/CMDs/MDs/FTHs/ Circular/S&N/03 dated March 28, 2024, had called for the ‘Use of locally manufactured needles and syringes.’ It was signed by the Minister in charge of the Federal Ministry of Social, Tunji Alausa.

According to the association, Alausa in the circular also man­dated NAFDAC to stop issuing licenses for the importation of foreign-manufactured needles and syringes and to de-list companies involved in the importation of these products going forward.

But, both ACPN officials said the association had critically appraised the circular, noting that it does not align with the convention and pro­tocol of the civil service in Nigeria.

They said it was out of place for a Minister to sign a circular instead of a designated civil servant and urged President Tinubu to revoke the restriction as contained in Alau­sa’s circular.

ACPN also noted that Alausa’s action has highlighted why the pharmaceutical industry needs the technical input of a seasoned Registered Pharmacist to serve as Chairman, Presidential Committee on Drug Distribution and Advisor on Pharmaceuticals to drive prog­ress in Nigeria.

The letter partly reads, “Your Excellency, the ACPN appeals to your sense of judgment in good conscience to quash the unlawful and vengeful circular of the Hon. Minister of State, Tunji Alausa for reasons well highlighted in this memo.

“Your Excellency, the output of Alausa is yet another vindica­tion that pharmaceutically-inclined endeavours need the technical input of a seasoned Registered Pharma­cist in the capacities of a Chairman of, the Presidential Committee on Drug Distribution and Advisor on Pharmaceuticals to gain the desired momentum in Nigeria.

“The desperation and a seeming ulterior motive by the Minister of State to get involved procedurally in what should have been the exclu­sive preserve of bureaucrats like the Permanent Secretary or other tech­nocrats like the relevant directors have led to avoidable errors.”

The Community Pharmacists said in the past few weeks, some notable healthcare leaders and rep­resentatives of various healthcare professional bodies cautioned the minister on his actions.

The Asso­ciation in the letter said they had urged Alausa to exercise caution before banning the importation of medical consumables, devices, and drugs in Nigeria.

The letter further reads, “Your Excellency, this unprecedented adventure and needless gamble of the Minister of State will bring about a monopoly and stock-outs in the supply value chain of syringes because it is a little too hasty and brash.’