The quest to have a well-ordered drug distribution system in Nigeria through the implementation of the new National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDGs) has received a big boost as Pharm. Olumide Akintayo, president of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and other eminent pharmacists have backed the 30 June implementation commencement date.
The pharmacists spoke at the official launch of Ultra Logistics Company (ULCO), a Mega Drug Distribution Centre (MDDC), promoted by the PSN, held recently at MAN Centre, Ikeja, Lagos.
Speaking with Pharmanews in an interview at the event, Pharm. Akintayo noted that the MDDC was a product of direct consultation between the federal government, through the Federal Ministry of Health, and the PSN, alongside its various appendages, including the technical groups and the strategic platforms like PMG-MAN, APIN and NIROPHARM.
He disclosed that the PSN had urged the FG to keep to the implementation date,adding that there would be a ministerial press briefing in June to announce the commencement of the policy.
The PSN president, who was the chief host at the event, in his opening remarks, noted that one of the underlying principles behind PSN promoting ULCO is to have pharmacy solution to pharmaceutical problems, especially that of drug distribution.
He noted that ULCO was set up to protect the interest of pharmacy practice and the general public in the implementation of the NDDGs, adding that, in recognition of the value-based principle of the pharmacy profession, the company would operate as a commercial organisation with social enterprise ethos, while growing the investment of shareholders.
The PSN helmsman explained that ULCO will aim to achieve three main objectives, namely, effective and efficient pharma supply management; distribution of safe, efficacious, effective and affordable drugs of good quality; and access to affordable pharma products to the public.
Pharm. Akintayo noted that the Nigerian pharmaceutical market is presently confronted with key challenges which include: fragmented and chaotic nature of drug distribution network; limited advancement in regulatory reforms; poor healthcare infrastructure; limited spending power of citizen; policy inconsistency; poor storage of drugs, leading to deterioration of active ingredients; reliance on imported pharmaceuticals; as well as limited market data, asoperators do not have real time data on quantities of drugs sold, where, when, by who and to whom.
He stated further that if the industry gets drug distribution right, the role of pharmacists will be clearer and there will be better professionalised detailing and less of selling, adding that the desire to see this come to fruition prompted the PSN to play a fundamental role in putting together the 2011 NDDGs.
Pharmacists, he said, must be in charge of ensuring that there is a model of practice in drug distribution, which other players must follow, stressing that, it is part of the responsibility of pharmacists to create confidence in the drug distribution system and ensure the safety and efficacy of drugs.
ULCO, Akintayo said, would be part of providing solution that will ensure an elimination of the current unprofessional practice in drug distribution, as the centre will provide an opportunity to change how drugs are distributed, while also serving as a platform for wealth creation for the pharmacy profession.
While urging pharmacists and pharmacy institutions to see the company as an initiative for financial empowerment, the PSN helmsman hinted that ULCO’s aspiration is to be the market leader in ensuring the Nigerian public get good and quality drugs at reasonable prices.
In his presentation at the occasion, the managing director of ULCO, Dr Lolu Ojo, said that the company was established to provide an opportunity for practitioners to be part of the positive changes that would reposition and boost the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry.
ULCO, Lolu Ojo said, has a mission to emerge as the preferred MDDC and ensure that drugs that are available are affordable and of good quality.
He added that ULCO will establish physical presence in Lagos with zonal hubs in each of the geopolitical zones, so as to meet up with its operational and regulatory requirements.
The ULCO MD stated that the company will focus on densely populated urban areas with large scale wholesalers to maximise business cost of distribution.
He also noted that ULCO will seek competitive advantage by offering highly diverse products at competitive pricing, noting that pricing remains the strongest key buyer value in the Nigerian market.
Chairman of the occasion, Dr Dere Awosika, in her closing remarks, urged all pharmacists to support the ULCO and the new NDDGs, stating that with the support of everybody, the company would succeed and the NDDGs would be effective.