– Give reasons for delay in vaccine arrival
The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria,PSN, has insisted that until the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, PCN Bill is passed at the National Assembly, there is no possibility of producing a COVID-19 vaccine in the country.
The PCN Bill is the law regulating medicines production in the country and everyone involved in Pharmacy practice, including those in the open drug markets.
Addressing journalists on the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria on Wednesday, the PSN President, Pharm. (Mazi) Sam Ohuabunwa, stressed that without the PCN Bill being passed into law by the National Assembly, the World Health Organisation, WHO would not grant Nigeria the approval for vaccine production.
“PCN Bill and vaccine production are like a twin which cannot exist without the other. Situations have arisen in the past when NAFDAC approached the WHO for approval on similar issue, but when the former PCN Bill was presented as a requirement, it was turned down on the basis of weakness. Hence, the need for the passage of the new bill arises.
“We have the science and technological know-how, in fact if the Bill is passed into law today, I can tell you that in less than 18 months, we can give the government a detailed proposal for the production of COVID-19 vaccine”, Ohuabunwa asserted.
The PSN President, who was ably represented at the briefing by the National Publicity Secretary, Pharm.(Mrs) Ijeoma Okey-Ewurum hinged Ghana’s reception of COVAX COVID-19 shots ahead of Nigeria with a larger population and infections on inadequate provision of facilities to maintain the cold chain protocols as well as meagre investment in the healthcare sector.
He however noted the importance of collaboration of healthcare workers in vaccination, saying all stakeholders must be well intimated and integrated into the vaccination exercise. “The place of pharmacists, the custodians of drug and drug information, is fundamental”, he maintained.
Explaining further on the bill, the number pharmacist in the country said it is impossible to enforce a law that is not in existence.
He likened the scenario to a case where an individual produces a vaccine at his backyard and thereafter the jab kills five persons and when sued to court, he was charged N50,000 or three months imprisonment. That does not make sense to the WHO, thus described it as a weak bill. And the need for the approval of the reviewed bill.
PCN Registrar, Pharm. N.A.E. Mohammed, sometimes last year had highlighted the merits of the new Pharmacy Bill over the previous one.
He stated that it will help arrest the current trend in which drugs are made available through illegal and unregistered outlets. It 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.
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 members of the Pharmacy National Executive Council present at the meeting were: the National Secretary, Pharm. Gbenga Falabi; Editor and Dr Lolu Ojo.