By Chioma Obinna

As the country battles for an efficient pharmaceutical value chain, Nigerian lady pharmacists have been charged to ensure zero-tolerance for malpractices that could introduce counterfeits in the pharmaceutical system as any functional health system requires an efficient value chain that can ensure a consistent flow of affordable and high-quality medicines for users.

Making the charge at the 2022 Biennial National Conference of the Association of Lady Pharmacists, ALPs, with the theme: “Pharmaceutical Value Chain for Optimal Utilisation: Where are we?” in Lagos, Managing Director of JNC International Ltd and Chairman, Vaccipharm Limited,  Mrs Clare Omatseye recalled that about 100,000 people die annually in Africa from fake drugs, hence, the need for ALPs to jointly advocate with the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, that all healthcare professionals come together and have a clear and common goal of meeting patients’ requirements for better and more accessible services, in turn optimising the pharmaceutical value chain.

She said in adopting a supply chain strategy, players in the chain need to be more customer-centric by putting the needs of patients first.

“We must not let the recent pandemic magnifying lens go to waste, It presented us with a unique opportunity to accelerate and grow pharma sector and become a major contributor to Nigeria’s GDP over the next decade coupled with the export opportunity of AfCFTA. We need to attract the investment capital.

“Women are great advocates and we must advocate Government on the critical need to create an enabling environment to further incentivize investors to place their funds in the Pharma Value Chain, and stop being overly dependent on foreign aid, or an FDI takes over.”  She further stressed that partnership with regulators was critical to ensure pharmacists transit from a manual, unfriendly bureaucracy to online approvals.

Noting that pharmacists play substantial roles in several aspects of the supply and value chain, yet not without challenges in aspects such as forecasting, procurement, inventory control, distribution and logistics, she lamented that there is a continued shortage of pharmacists manpower with several positions naturally occupied by pharmacists being left opened for non-pharmacists to occupy.

 “The government needs to provide adequate funds to support research, staff development, exchange programs, capacity building, specialised residency training and well-articulated continuing professional development. The infrastructures are dilapidated, and materials used to train pharmacists in universities and teaching hospitals obsolete; these should be updated.”

She also urged ALPS, PSN and PWDAN to continue to push for enforcement of the National Drug Distribution Guidelines for world-class Pharma Distribution and end the open drug market.

Earlier in her address, the National Chairman of ALPS, Pharm. Victoria Ukwu said in ensuring access to safe effective and quality assured medicines a comprehensive approach is required across the pharmaceutical value chain, stating that the value chain contains some critical steps from the initial development stage of medicines to the final appropriate use by patients therefore every arm of pharmacy is expected to play a role and add value to the chain.  

Speaking, the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Prof Christinah Adeyeye said NAFDAC has turned NAFDAC around to be among the few agencies that have stood out in the world in terms of regulation.

“We are the first regulatory agency in Africa to use the feasibility system to ensure our drug distribution system is more feasible.  We are also leading the way in Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients in manufacturing, and Emzor Pharmaceutical is leading the way and NAFDAC is working hand in hand with that process.  We have attained Maturity level 3 and we are also going to get to maturity level 4 to be one of the best regulatory agencies in the world.”

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