*Says fake, unregistered medicine dealers selling fake medicines
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA–THE Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, has fingered fake pharmacists and unregistered medicine dealers for being responsible for counterfeit medicines in the country.
On the other hand, the organisation attributed the development to ignorance on the part of the public which it said, find it difficult to differentiate between a patent medicine dealer and a pharmacist.
To this end, PSN, speaking through its President, Prof Cyril Odianose Usifoh, has appealed to necessary relevant authorities to take harsher measures against promoters of counterfeit medicines in the country.
Usifoh, who spoke in Abuja, at a 2-day National Executive Officers Retreat and the Launch of Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, ACPN Leadership College, with the theme, ‘Advancing Solutions to the Challenges of Community Pharmacist’, noted that many Nigerians do not know who a pharmacist is”, thus patronising the quarks in the industry.
Noting that, “there is no profession that does not have quacks but there is a difference between a pharmacist and a quack”, he said:”And if you patronise a pharmacist and a quack the difference will be clear. And it is left for Nigerians to know who pharmacists are.”
He spoke further:”But I must say with all form of humility and sincerity that people who make money out of people because of the way they fake things or using adulterated drugs are not doing well for the country. A pharmacist will not do that.
“A pharmacist will be compassionate and willing to listen to you. But people who are interested in making money by selling fake drugs that are unwholesome, should be fished out and appropriate action meted out on them.
“In fact, if the pharmacist bill is signed into law, some of these things will be properly checked because when somebody knows that if he commits a crime and what he needs to pay with the old law which is less than a N1000 he will continue to commit the crime.
“But when it goes through and the President accents to it we will have more punitive measures for people who decide to contravene such laws.”
Usifoh further said,”There will always be challenges but I have faith in community pharmacy because it is the reference point for all pharmacists in Nigeria and it is the first place of call even when somebody is sick you need to get community pharmacy before even getting to the clinic or hospital.”
He added: “And as pharmacists being the most of trust in the healthcare team, we give appropriate advice and referrals when necessary.
“The truth is many Nigerians do not know who a pharmacist is. At times they find it difficult to differentiate between a patent medicine dealer and a pharmacist.
“But we are unique people, educated, intelligent, and willing to deliver the best to the Nigerian people particularly letting them know medicine security and the way to go about treating medicine because every medicine is a poison.
“So you must get in touch with your pharmacist on how to use your drugs.
“Vaccine hesitancy is a big problem in this country but community pharmacists are bridging the gap.
“I believe very strongly that community pharmacy should be vaccination centres for not just COVID-19 but for all forms of vaccination so that the teeming population of the country can get their required vaccination when necessary.
“As I said, pharmacists are the most trusted people in the healthcare sector and I speak for all pharmacists. If you come to community pharmacy and get your vaccination, you will get a card and no pharmacist will give you a card without vaccination.”
Chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, ACPN, Adewale Oladigbolu, earlier in his remark, said the ACPN would open up community pharmacy centres where citizens can vaccinate for free.
Oladigbolu stated that the gesture was to assist the government simmer down the rate of COVID-19 infections.
He, however, lamented that rural dwellers have not had enough information on vaccination, adding that ACPN would double its efforts in ensuring that the message gets to them.
“The people who are managing the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency have been on the part of the people by ensuring that community Pharmacies are centres for vaccination.
“However, this message has not penetrated to members of the public and we are doing something to address that. Not only that they can vaccinate in community pharmacy but for the first three months (March, April, and May) the vaccination is going to be absolutely free in community Pharmacies.
“Any pharmacy where you see the signage that COVID-19 vaccination is supported, it is going to be free. We doing it to support the Nigerian system.
“The media also has a role to play to ensure that people know that vaccination takes place in our communities and it is free,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chairman, Board of Trustee of ACPN, Dr Nelson Uwaga said pharmacists are working towards getting loan facilities from banks to purchase modern technology in order to better the practice.
Uwaga added that members would integrate the distribution of drugs in order to track fake drugs.
“Some of the things we are talking about is beyond the welfare of pharmacists, but getting more funds into making the practice more technically compliant.
“We are also talking about how we can become more integrated in our practices and how we can tackle the issue of quackery and fake drugs in the system.
“Because if we bring in technology and also be able to raise cheaper funds from the banks because if they see us together and give assurance for our colleagues on funds given to them they will release more funds and it will be possible to come to a level of practice where technology plays a key role and we will have less adverse drug reaction.
“If we have a good way of integrating and distributing drugs you will find out that they would be no gaps where fake drugs can come into the country because everybody in that logistics system is assured because you know where the drug is coming from,” he added.