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Over 2M pharmaceutical outlets are illegal

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By Mercy Kelani

Unregistered pharmaceutical outlets pose threats to public health.

More than two million pharmaceutical premises that are not registered were revealed by the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, with proof that they still operate in Nigeria. The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria lamented that Nigeria is now being seen as a good place for substandard and fake drug manufacturing, as a result of the many locations where medicinal drugs are sold and dispensed. Professor Cyril Usifoh, the PSN President, announced the situation by raising an alarm concerning these activities.

He called for stringent policies for enforcement and adoption of pharmaceutical regulations. He stressed that grave threats are posed by these unregistered pharmaceutical premises against public health, owing to the fact that quality and safety standards may not be met. He said that, according to PSN estimation, in Nigeria, there are more than 25,000 patent medicine shops and pharmacies that are registered, however, there is a significant difference in comparison to the unregistered pharmaceutical premises in the country, which were estimated to be 2 million.

Appointment of a substantive registrar is necessary.

Also, without any adherence to safety and quality standards or regulatory oversight, there have been illegal operations of many unregistered pharmaceutical premises. He expressed his displeasure at the commemoration of the forthcoming 96th Annual National Conference of the society tagged ‘Jewel City’ 2023 held in Lagos, stating that there is no employment of a substantive registrar by the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, the body empowered to stop the abuses and excesses of many pharmaceutical premises that are not registered.

The PSN president professed that the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu needs urgent advice from the chief legal officer of the country to aid the navigation of the challenges that are battling with the pharmaceutical sector. He emphasized that appointment of a substantive registrar and addressing the PCN financing shortfall must be done by the president to put an end to the regulatory challenges in the pharmaceutical sector. He added that Nigeria, as a nation, should not have a consuming evil of monstrosity.

Nigeria has lost more than 6,000 pharmacists due to brain drain.

According to him, the National Assembly has identified the challenges, and the government should not back down as a result of financial technocrats. Furthermore, there would be a comprehensive abdication of a supposed responsible government to deliberate on this with PCN, which is considered a unique and peculiar professional regulatory Council. Nigerians have been forced to live with physicians who dispense drugs to private-owned hospitals, and a thriving drug abuse and misuse culture, as a result of poor funding and the status quo of the Federal Government involvement.

Likewise, the Federal government under compulsion, from the purview of existing laws, in Section 9 (1) of the PCN Act 2022, is to ensure provision of budgetary and extra-budgetary allocations to the PCN. The Budget Office was addressed that it would be illegal for them to stop allocations to the PCN, in the interest of the public. Usifoh stated that more than 6,000 pharmacists have been lost in Nigeria due to the challenges of brain drain, in the past six years, while more pharmacists are planning to leave the country.

Additional measures are significantly required to reverse the trend.

Based on his statement, it was said that the body acknowledged the few steps taken — the PCN Act, consultancy cadre and new salary structure. Nevertheless, he said that to reverse the trend of unregistered pharmaceutical premises more measures are significantly required. The Federal Government was implored by the pharmacists to guarantee guidance of lives to ensure access to affordable, efficacious and safe drugs to buyers and consumers in Nigeria. Mr. Valentine Okelu, the Chief Executive Officer of Neimeth, also spoke at the event.

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