By Chioma Obinna; Kosiso Udemba & Modinat Amusat
LAGOS — The Federal Government, yesterday, announced that from June 30, 2014, drugs would no longer be sold in the open market in Nigeria, declaring an emergency in drug distribution system in the country to address the chaotic situation.
Consequently, the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, has introduced State and Mega Drug Distribution Centres, SMDDCs, to tackle challenges posed by the present drug distribution system in the country.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ sensitisation meeting, ahead of the commissioning of Megacentre pharmaceuticals Limited, Onitsha, the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, said the uncoordinated drug distribution in Nigeria had posed a big challenge to the pharmaceutical sector. He said fake, adulterated and sub-standard drugs in circulation constituted a threat to the healthcare delivery system.
Represented by the Director, National Drug Policy Programme, Mrs. Joyce Ugwu, Chukwu traced the present uncoordinated drug distribution in the country to import liberalisation in the early 80’s which allowed all manners of people to import drugs into the country.
Lamenting that Nigeria was still faced with challenges of illegal open drug markets, he announced that the present States’ Central Medical Stores, CMSs, could be used as the take-off hubs for the newly introduced State Drug Distribution Centres, SDDCs.
He said: “The main attraction of the new National Drug Distribution Guidelines is that drugs will no longer be sold in open market with effect from June 30, 2014, as manufacturers and importers will channel drugs to only SDDCs, MDDCs and other channels in the provisions of the guidelines, while defaulters will face varying degrees of sanctions. Healthcare facilities at all levels, including private facilities, are guided by the guidelines in their drug procurement activities in order to avoid the current practice that is lacking in professionalism.
Corroborating, the Director-General, NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii, said: “We have not really had an effective way of sanitizing drug distribution in Nigeria and that remains a major challenge. While the new guideline provides a distribution channel which would help identify sources of drugs at every level of healthcare and create orderliness in drug distribution system, this move will ameliorate the chaotic nature in the present drug distribution system which encourages sales and distribution of sub standard medicines in open drug market among genuine brands.”