-As Pharmacists Embark on Sensitisation Walk in Lagos
Members of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) have called on the Federal Government to speedily ensure proper implementation of the National Drug Distribution Guidelines, saying it would reposition confidence in the pharmaceutical sector and also reduce the incidence of fake drugs.
Speaking at the Dopemu area where the IDEA Zone had their sensitization walk, in commemoration of World Pharmacists Day, the State chairman, Pharm. Lawrence Ekhator, stated that safe and effective medicines are indispensable for all because, just as it is impossible to do without food, so also it is impossible for humans to do without quality drugs.
On the circulation of fake and substandard drugs in society, the ACPN boss urged people to ensure that they get their medicines from the right and authentic sources, to prevent falling victims to fake drugs, adding that they should source their drug from reputable outlets no matter the cost, and ensure they confirm it’s a registered premise.
He explained that the walk against fake drugs by the community pharmacists was to bring to the notice of the people and to ring a resounding bell of warning on the adverse effects of fake drugs and their detrimental effects even on the economy of the country.
The sensitisation walk, organised throughout the state by zonal chapters of the association, saw pharmacists from the different zones participating in the walk, displaying different placards on the roles of pharmacists in the community and distributing flyers.
According to Ekhator “Community pharmacists, today are walking against the menace of fake drugs. Fake drugs as you know, are a menace to our society. It kills and its adverse effects are far-reaching. It affects the economy, it affects purchasing power, livelihood and the living of our populace. So, fake drug is not just something we decided to walk against, it has been on the increase as we speak.
“So we have decided as community pharmacists and as gatekeepers with respect to drug usage in Nigeria and Lagos in particular, to sensitize the public against the menace of fake drugs, how to identify fake drugs, what to do to the effect of a fake drug been used and ways to stop the usage of drugs in the society”.
For the former President, PSN, Pharm. Anthony Akhimien, the day is about celebrating pharmacists, bringing into the public domain, what they do, what they preach and practice. ”A lot of people do not know how to celebrate pharmacists, they just see them as one that dispense drugs. But beyond that, we are the custodians of drugs, manufacturers of drugs and distributors of drugs. We undertake the processing from manufacturing till the patient gets the drug, and we also ensure safe handling, safe delivery and safe taking of the drug”, he noted.
He continued, “The walk is to create awareness on the role of pharmacists and to bring the message closer to them that as pharmacists, we are not just to dispense the drugs but also give advice on how to use it. We need to synchronize and ensure that the standard that has been set is well observed. Every health standard around the world should also be replicated in Nigeria. If a drug is manufactured in china and is used, it’s the same way it should be used in Nigeria as well.
“The FIP being our global body is telling us to transmit these standards to all parts of the world and we are the custodians of the drug, therefore, they rely on us the community pharmacists to carry this message to the grassroots and that is why this thing became very apt, particularly with is celebrating the world pharmacists Day”
“The major role of a community pharmacist is to source for the good and credible drug. I do not believe a registered pharmacist who went to the university would buy fake drugs and sell them. Business people can do that, but if you go to a registered pharmacy which is identified with the emblem, you should be assured that you are getting the right thing. So, we advise that people should desist from buying drugs from the roadside or market, but go to a pharmacy where the emblem is displayed. This also helps us to give assurance to people to trust us as they have entrusted this in us.”
Speaking in the same vein, the Coordinator, ACPN, IDEA Zone, Pharm. Isaac Olufunminiyi noted that drug distribution in Nigeria is so bad that drugs are sold in buses, shops, malls, roadside, open markets, etc without control by health authorities, adding that the ‘Awareness Walk’ was not meant to only expose people to counterfeit medicines, but to encourage them to purchase drugs from registered pharmacies with the emblem of the “RX” sign as is the case in most developed nations.
“The country’s pharmaceutical industry is today battling with the ills of counterfeit medicines which had done incalculable damage to the health of Nigerians and the nation’s economy. Therefore, pharmacists in Nigeria are saying no to fake drugs. We are using this medium to tell the Federal Ministry of Health, NAFDAC, PCN, and others that fake drugs can only be eradicated in Nigeria if there’s no market where drugs are sold in Nigeria.
“The drug is not a commodity to be found in marketplaces. It is only in a registered pharmacy that you can get excellent pharmaceutical care. We are saying that the drug distribution channel in Nigeria must be re-visited. The drug distribution in Nigeria is currently in a state of comatose. Our drug distribution is sick, our drug distribution channel is bad, all hands should be on deck so as to endure that the distribution channel is re-visited and different acts and laws that have been made far back as 2012 are implemented”.
He added, “All drug markets in Nigeria must be closed down. There is no way this menace can be curbed if we do not dump the traditional way of doing things and go for the conventional method that has been adopted all over the world. When distributing drugs in Nigeria, we must ensure that a drug doesn’t end up with the wrong user.