(By Adebayo Oladejo)
The Executive Governor of Kwara State, Alh. (Dr) Abdulfatah Ahmed has joined his voice to calls by stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry for stiffer penalties for drug counterfeiters.
The governor, who was guest of honour at the 33rd annual national conference of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), made the call while speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference, held at the Arca Santa Event Centre, Ilorin, Kwara State, last month.
Governor Ahmed, who was represented by Kwara State Commissioner for Health, Dr Abdul Kayode Issa, said the menace of counterfeit and substandard drugs has continued to diminish the standard of healthcare delivery at all levels in the country.
He added, for the benefit of community pharmacists at the well-attended event that it is a crime against humanity for anyone to knowingly procure and distribute fake or substandard drugs that can take people’s lives and damage the health of people in the quest for profit making.
“I therefore urge you to base your practice towards global best practices, so that our people will continue to enjoy quality pharmaceutical services”, he challenged the practitioners.
While appreciating the ACPN for coming at a time his administration was marking its third year in office, the governor also urged ACPN to be more stringent in its regulation of the practice of pharmacy in order to ensure that only qualified professionals were allowed to dispense drugs to the public.
He also used the opportunity to disclose that his government was already working on the establishment of a drug distribution centre in compliance with the new drug distribution guidelines of the federal government set to take off very soon. “At the last national council of health meeting that we had with the minister of health in Abuja, we actually mentioned there that June 30 deadline set for the take-off of the programme may be extended while it is also important to inform this gathering that the state is giving adequate support to the fake and counterfeit drugs task force activities in the state”.
Also speaking at the event, emir of Shonga, Dr Haliru Ndanusa Yaya (OON), called on the ACPN to sanction any pharmacist guilty of prescribing wrong drugs for patients, adding that pharmacists and other health workers are required to be more professional in their chosen field.
The emir further stated that health workers should strive to avoid embarking on industrial strike due to the crucial nature of their job.
“Doctors and other health workers are not supposed to go on strike. We are working for the patient. Imagine if doctors embark on strike and a patient loses his life, how do we restore the life? Also, our drugs are getting into wrong hands and we should be mindful of that as pharmacists. Let us stand together as a team and put sentiments aside, so that patients who are our primary target will benefit from the care we are offering.”
While making his own contributions, Chairman of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), Pharm. Bruno Nwan kwo, noted that the effect of community pharmacy in Nigeria was impacting positively on the image of pharmacy profession in Nigeria. He however observed thatthere were still problems plaguing the practice, which community pharmacists in particular must help to tackle in order to move the profession forward.
“The challenge of non-pharmacists who pretend to deliver pharmaceutical services to the public is seriously affecting the fortune of community practice,” he said,”but I want to appeal to us not to respond to this encroachment by giving up on our value. Pharmacy stands for good pharmaceutical services and patient care to the utmost and our unfortunate competitors are nowhere to give pharmaceutical care; so when we drop our standard and services in competition to them, what we do is hurt ourselves and hurt our future”.
The PCN boss warned that pharmacists flouting the council’s regulations and compromising pharmaceutical standards should be ready to face stiff sanctions.
“You will not expect us to say get rid of the patent medicine vendors and spare the absentee pharmacists.So if you own a premisesand you are not there to practise as required by law, you are as good as the ‘register and go’ offender or as good as the patent medicine vendor,” he stressed.
In his goodwill message to the ACPN, President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm. Olumide Akintayo, disclosed that the Society haddecided that all arms of inspectorates should henceforth ensure that there must be compulsory monitoring and control at least once in every month in order to crackdown on unregistered and illegal premises in all the states of the federation.
“We must be ready to support this initiative in terms of finance and logistics because I believe very strongly that ACPN will be the major beneficiary,” he said.
Earlier on in his address at the opening ceremony, National Chairman of ACPN,Pharm. (Alh) Olufemi Ismail Adebayo, said the theme of the conference “Evolving Best Practices in Community Pharmacy” was meant to clearly convey the message that the roles of pharmacists need to evolve from drug compounders and dispensers to providers of quality drug products with patient-centred care, which includes the functions of counselling, drug information and monitoring of drug therapy in patients.
Highlights of the opening ceremony include the presentation of the first Ahmed Yakasai Community Pharmacists Support Award which was won by Pharm. Kunle Amusan from Oyo State and the signing of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), between ACPN and Globacom Limited.