October 22, 2023

Fake drugs: PSN raises alarm over 2m unregistered pharmaceutical premises

Firms partner on affordable pharmaceuticals, diagnostics

Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN

… Says over 6,000 Pharmacists lost to brain drain in 6 years

… Laments delay in appointing Registrar for Pharmacy Council of Nigeria

By Chioma Obinna

The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, weekend disclosed that there are over two million unregistered pharmaceutical premises and 35 open drug markets across the country making Nigeria a fertile ground for fake and substandard drug products.

The Pharmacists also frowned that Nigeria has lost over 6,000 pharmacists to brain drain in the last six years while more are preparing to leave.

They further lamented that despite the dire situation, there’s no substantive registrar for the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, PCN, the regulatory body who could curtail the excesses and abuses of some unregistered pharmaceutical premises.

Disclosing these in Lagos during a press conference on their forthcoming 96th Annual National Conference of the PSN tagged ‘Jewel City 2023 taking place in Gombe State from October 30 to November 4, the President of PSN, Prof. Cyril Usifoh said there was the need for the prompt intervention of the Chief Law Officer of the country to guide President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration on the challenge of both lack of funding for the PCN and the appointment of a substantive registrar to fill the regulatory gaps in the sector.

Usifoh lamented that poor funding and the status quo of the Federal Government involvement have compelled Nigerians to live with physicians dispensing drugs in private hospitals, a thriving drug abuse and misuse culture, which is seriously consuming Nigerians especially youths and even women.  “We cannot as a nation has a consuming evil of the monstrosity, which the National Assembly has also identified, and you walk away as government because some financial technocrats think they want to save money.  It amounts to a comprehensive abdication of responsibility by an otherwise responsible government to contemplate this with PCN, which is both a peculiar and unique professional regulatory Council.

“The PSN President said from the purview of existing laws, the Federal Government is compelled in Section 9 (1) of the PCN Act 2022 to provide budgetary and extra-budgetary allocations to the PCN. “It will therefore be unlawful and illegal for the Budget Office to stop allocations to the PCN in public interest.” he added.

He stated that the mandate of the PCN transcends regulating pharmacists and other workforce cadre to the regulation and control of pharmaceutical premises in both public and private sectors including facilities for manufacture, importation, export, distribution, wholesale, retail, hospital drug dispensing and sales, pharma component of veterinary practice and much more.”

Usifoh reasoned: “The sensitivity of these endeavours which are legally considered as medicine matters is the reason most countries bring drug use matters under central or federal control.  That’s why medicine matters are listed as item 21 in Part 1 of the 2nd Schedule in the 1999 Constitution.

Pharmacists in the country therefore urged the Federal Government to ensure adequate protection of lives in terms of ensuring easy access to safe, efficacious and affordable drugs to consumers of health in the country.

On japa syndrome, he said over the past 6 years, Nigeria has lost about 6,000 pharmacists to brain drain and the development has left an enormous burden on the system as they are not being replaced fast enough.  “We acknowledge that a few steps like the new salary structure and consultancy cadre, together with the PCN Act are welcome but much more is needed to significantly reverse the trend.”

The Chairman Organising Committee who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Neimeth, Mr Valentine Okelu explained that the conference with the theme ‘Pharmacy Practice: A Pivot to Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria’ will be held at the International Conference Centre, Bauchi Road in Gombe State. The keynote address will be delivered by the Deputy Governor of Gombe State, Dr. Menassah Daniel Jatau.