The new pharmacy law will help in no small way to transform pharmacy practice in Nigeria, as it has comprehensively brought all participants and bodies involved in drug distribution under the regulatory ambit of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), Pharm. N.A.E. Mohammed, registrar, PCN, has said. Speaking on the topic: “Pharmacy Practice Reformation in Nigeria: The Significance of the New Pharmacy Law,” at the recent 36th Marquis Memorial Lecture, organised by Faculty of Pharmacy, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) and held at the Marquis Lecture Theatre, the PCN registrar stated that, with the new pharmacy law, everyone involved in pharmacy practice, including those in the open drug markets, will now be regulated by the PCN.
This, he said, will help arrest the current trend in which drugs are made available through illegal and unregistered outlets. The new law, Pharm. Mohammed noted, is all encompassing and addresses the gaps inherent in the extant Act and will help guarantee public health, since it provides adequate sanctions in the event of a breach of any of its provisions. He lamented that the current PCN Act does not provide sanctions for breach in any of its provisions.
The offenses covered by the new law, he explained, are unprofessional conduct; failure to register premises; refusal to dispense drugs and poisons; control of sale of patent and proprietary medicines; provision or supply of dangerous and restricted drugs; improved access to quality, effective and affordable medicines through introduction of satellite pharmacy and introduction of the concept of chain pharmacy.
Other provisions of the new law, he said, are establishment of requirements for registration of intern pharmacists and standard for internship and any other experimental training, to enable a person obtain practical experience in the practice of pharmacy; establishment of requirement for the grant of license to intern pharmacists to undergo internship courses and engage in the practice of pharmacy in an approved institution, under the direct supervision of registered pharmacists; provisions to regulate online distribution and sales of drugs and poisons; establishment of requirements for the grant of license; and regulation of certified pharmacists to practise in designated fields, such as nuclear pharmacy, logistics and supply chain management, among others.
The PCN registrar stressed that the new law will equally help to tackle the current moral and ethical issues like abuse and misuse of codeine and related products, which has assumed a crisis status in the country today, nothing that the law will address the challenge of weak and ineffective legislations on pharmacy in the country. The new pharmacy bill, Mohammed disclosed, passed through various legislative processes (including public hearing) and, after being passed in November 2017, was forwarded to the Senate, which also concurred with the House of Representatives’ position, and passed the bill as forwarded, after clause-by clause consideration, adding that the bill is now awaiting the assent of the president, Muhammadu Buhari.