*… as PCN begins licensing of internet pharma services Jan 2022

By Sola Ogundipe

Towards safeguarding the health of Nigerians from charlatans and quacks who operate online, the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, PCN, is commencing the registration and licensing of all internet based providers of pharmaceutical services in the country as from January 2022.

The PCN Registrar, Dr Elijah Mohammed, who disclosed this to Vanguard, said in order to operate online, all pharmacies in Nigeria must be registered and licensed by the PCN.

Mohammed who spoke in Lagos during a stakeholders meeting on online pharmaceutical products and marketing, said to aid differentiation of a registered site from an illegal one, the agency would provide an online logo for all licensed sites.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Pharmacists task NPHCDA, NCDC on pharmacies as vaccination centres

“It is very necessary to safe guide the health of Nigerians and over the years, a lot of online pharmacy practice have been going on with no regulation.

“When there is no law, there is no crime. Now that the regulations have been put in place, it is going to be a criminal offence to do an online pharmacy practice without registering with the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria.

“We will have a reporting session, that whenever there are irregularities on online pharmacy practice, the consumers can make their report, and we will follow up.

“We have the support of the Inspector General of Police, he has designated someone to serve as a liaison officer between PCN and Interpol department of the office of the IGP, so if there is any reporting, they will help us to carry out an investigation and then we will bring the offender(s) to justice.”

Further, the Registrar explained that non-pharmaceutical outlets selling and advertising drugs online are running foul of the law.

“Anyone cannot just wake up and start selling drugs. They must have a pharmacist, there must be a physical building with address that we can easily track and then other regulations like the CAC document,

“Our resolve is to protect the health of Nigerians, and we have resolved to go ahead with the online registration of pharmacies. We have gotten a binding from the stakeholders, which is very important.

“Drugs are in the exclusive list of the federal government and before you can go into drug business, you must be registered as a pharmaceutical company with the CAC, and then must be licensed to operate as a pharmaceutical company by PCN.

“There must be a superintendent pharmacist  responsible for every activity done in the company. Drugs are poison, so they must be handled in a way and manner that will be beneficial to the Nigerian populace.

“Online registration to commence 1st January 2022 and that is why we are having this stakeholders meeting, so that we would get acquitted with what is required for both parties.

“So far, about 50 applications have been received, so we can’t just start processing them, without interfacing with them, so let them know exactly they are expected to do.”

Also speaking, spokesperson for the pharmaceutical online stakeholders, Pharm Abimbola Adebakin said the idea of regulation of online pharmacies was even as the PCN would provide a distinctive factor and a guide mark that will be placed on every licensed online pharmacy so that Nigerians will feel safer to purchase drugs online. .

“There is a gap. Many people are still looking for drugs that are genuine and affordable and they go to the physical pharmacies but cannot find them except online.

“We are happy that PCN has recognised online pharmacies, we however, urge PCN not to be draconian in their implementation of the guidelines and to also be ready for review of the law, because we are both learning. It is vital for digital health to be promoted in Nigeria and Africa at large.

She lamented that the commercial sale of counterfeit drugs across the world, is more lucrative than the sales of hard drugs, so it is necessary for government to regulate.

“With the PCN’s initiative the regulatory body is doing a service to the country and Nigerians.

“They will place a signage to identify the online pharmacies that are genuine and lisenced, so that Nigerians can now start patronising good and quality drugs online, ” she noted.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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