By Sola Ogundipe
Pharmacists under the aegis of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Lagos State branch have cautioned against promoting and embracing Internet Pharmacy practice (also known as an online pharmacy) in Nigeria saying such move would only worsen the already bad fortunes of the nation’s drug distribution system.
Chairman of the branch, Pharm Bola Adeniran, who spoke on the challenges of Internet Pharmacy practice said Nigeria currently lacks requisite regulatory controls to monitor the tenets of Internet Pharmacy, and that going ahead with the practice would spell doom for the country.
Adeniran, who noted that the PSN aligns with the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, ACPN said the body remains committed to normalising the chaotic drug distribution channels through specific procedures and interventions by the strategic regulatory agencies involved in drug distribution.
“As very responsible professionals, health providers cannot be seen on one hand to be approbating through building structures of the greatest possibilities by the three regulatory agencies (Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, PCN, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration of Nigeria, NAFDAC, and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA), and on the other reprobating by worsening the fundamental decay of indiscriminate access to medicines which Internet Pharmacy will only facilitate as Nigeria does not have regulatory controls to monitor the tenets of Internet Pharmacy today.
“The major demerit of Internet Pharmacy is that it is largely faceless which makes it a major source of fake and substandard products even at the global level. It is, therefore, logical to imagine that embracing this concept in our largely unregulated drug distribution space will only spell more doom for our country,” she cautioned.
On the issue of regulation of drug distribution, Adenirate stated that: “Community Pharmacists insist that the PCN be empowered to have manning levels through inspectors who can monitor, control and enforce existing laws as it affects all registered and unregistered drug premises or outlets in public and private sectors.
Further, she noted that in line with its safety margin, “the NAFDAC be allowed unfettered access to regulate the quality of drugs in pharmaceutical premises while also ensuring sanity in drug quality control and assurance at all designated ports of entry (airports and seaports) in the best interest of consumers of medicines, and in line with its mandate, the NDLEA should continue to take responsibility for dangerous drugs and narcotics.
“Pharmacists, however, call for a restructuring of the NDLEA Act to ensure that a Directorate of Consumer Protection which shall be headed by a Registered Pharmacist is created in line with the undisputed status of Pharmacists as experts in drug matters in our quest to tackle drug abuse and misuse,” Adeniran argued.