Contrary to the widespread opinion among pharmacists regarding the recent regulatory operations of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) which led to the sealing of several pharmacies, the PCN Registrar, Pharm. Elijah Mohammed has revealed that most of the pharmacies affected were upgraded patent medicine stores without necessary registration requirements.
The Registrar, in an exclusive interview with Pharmanews said the PCN regulatory activities were grossly hinderded by the COVID-19 restriction of movement, which gave room for the proliferation of illegal medicine shops across the country.
To arrest the situation, he said the regulatory agency is embarking on massive enforcement operation to checkmate the activities of these unscrupulous business men.
He said: “Most of the pharmacies sealed in Lagos where majority of these complaints emanated from were patent medicine shops which upgraded to pharmacies without meeting requirements for registration.
“Some of the deficiencies observed in these premises were actually in breach of extant laws and regulations”, he explained.
Mohammed listed some of the offences committed by the upgraded patent medicine stores to include: “Absence of superintendent pharmacist on ground to supervise pharmaceutical activities within the premises, poor storage facilities, use of pharmacy students to stand in for superintendent pharmacists and access of unauthorized staff to the poison cupboards”.
For some premises owned by pharmacists, he said it was discovered that some of them are working in other places while superintending their own premises at the same time while others refused to display their premises licences or evidence of registration as required by law.
He assured Nigerians on the activities of the regulatory body to curb all operations of unregistered pharmacies or illegal medicine stores, saying “the PCN national enforcement activities has resumed and it’s being intensified to ensure that such illegal medicine shops are closed down”.
When asked about the plan of the PCN to close open drug markets in the country, Mohammed said while the implementation of the National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG) is being supervised by the Federal Ministry of Health, there is need for cooperation among stakeholders.
“However, the regulatory agencies that is, PCN and NAFDAC have their statutory roles which complement one another in the process of the implementation of the NDDG.
“The PCN is discussing and providing necessary support to stakeholders involved and monitoring ongoing activities in the development of their approved sites.
“We will continue to play our role until the full implementation of the Coordinated Wholesale Centre is achieved. We believe that with government support and cooperation of stakeholders the challenge posed by these markets will be surmounted in no distant future”, he maintained.