– As name changes to Pharmacy Council of Nigeria
The Registrar, Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN), Pharm. Babashehu Ahmed, has declared the Council’s readiness to strictly implement the newly approved and gazetted Pharmacy Council Act 2022, stressing that no errant pharmacist, pharmacy technician or medicine dealer will be spared under the new regulation.
The declaration follows the signing of the Pharmacy Bill into law by President Mohammadu Buhari on 16 August, a move which Ahmed says will redefine pharmacy practice in the country by removing perennial barriers to the regulatory functions of the Council.
With the gazetting of the Act also came a change of name for the Council, from “Pharmacists Council of Nigeria” to “Pharmacy Council of Nigeria”. This, according to the registrar, makes the law all-encompassing and further amplifies PCN’s regulatory powers.
Ahmed, who spoke with Pharmanews in an exclusive interview, urged all pharmacists to operate within the ambit of the law to avoid sanctions from the Council.
He said: “We shall leave no stone unturned to ensure full implementation of the law, more so that the law has provided for clear sanctions, in case of a breach of its provisions. I will ensure its full implementation through effective stakeholders’ engagement.
“There is no doubt that this new Act will redefine pharmacy regulation as well as practice, and will cure the inadequacies and that impede the regulatory function of the Council. The law is all-encompassing and has strengthened the PCN in carrying out its functions.
“I am pleased to inform the general public that the new Pharmacy Council of Nigeria Act has been gazetted as Extraordinary Gazette No. 157 of 30 August, 2022, Vol. 109 Government Notice No. 108. With this development, the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria is now officially Pharmacy Council of Nigeria.
“All pharmacists should view themselves as ambassadors of the pharmacy profession. We should endeavour to uphold the standards of Pharmacy, ensure compliance with laid down regulatory frameworks, and remain diligent, ethical and resilient in delivering good pharmaceutical services to the populace.”
The registrar, who was appointed on 7 April at a Special Meeting of the PCN Governing Council, expressed his profound gratitude for the overwhelming confidence reposed in him, while assuring the pharmacy community of taking the profession to greater heights.
He added that, aside from holistic commitment to the Pharmacy Act, his other objectives for the Council include strengthening enforcement; building technical capacity to regulate e-pharmacy, with a view to ensuring accountability, efficient and effective professional practice; re-engineering PICs and PPMV committees; implementing the novel state-based accreditation committees; implementing the registration of, and effective regulation of medical and sales representatives; as well as ensuring effective collaborations with relevant MDAs to achieve payment of professional allowances to pharmacy lecturers.
Ahmed listed other goals of the PCN under his tenure to include pursuance of the completion and take-off of the approved Co-ordinated Wholesale Centres (CWCs); digitalisation of inspectorate activities to promote transparency; implementation of new initiatives that have positive impact on the practice, such as Task Shifting and Task Sharing Policy, Hub and Spoke Model, and Satellite Pharmacy; coordination of licence issuance for specialist cadres; revitalisation of MCPD and Tier-Accreditation pilot; and continuous engagement with development and implementing partners.
The registrar summed up his vision for the Council into the following priority areas: Launch of a reviewed Strategic Plan (2022 – 2026) as a roadmap for the PCN; Re-engineering of the Registry for effective coordination and quality service delivery that meets stakeholders’ expectation; Implementation of Good Pharmacy Practice (GPP) concepts in various areas of Pharmacy; and Enhancement of stakeholders’ engagement through effective collaboration.
“To measure these priority areas, an effective monitoring and evaluation tool, with measurable indices, will be put in place,” Ahmed assured.
On the availability of forex to local drug manufacturers, as a regulatory institution in the pharmaceutical sector, the PCN boss promised to pursue various strategies through engagement of relevant MDAs to have policies in place that will tackle this issue.
When asked if there is any end in sight to the menace of open drugs markets in the country, he stated that in pursuit of the full implementation of National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG), the cardinal focus will be on working with the stakeholders to ensure the completion of the various Coordinated Wholesale Centres (CWCs), which, he said, will lead to the closure of the open drug markets across the country.
Ahmed maintained that the CWC concept has come to stay, disclosing that the Kano CWC, otherwise known as Kanawa Pharmaceutical Partners (KPP), has been completed and awaiting commissioning.
He also said, “The Lagos project, that is, City Pharmaceuticals and Allied Partners, which is located at Bada Village, opposite Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Orile, Iganmu, Lagos, is ongoing, while the ground-breaking ceremony of the Anambra CWC, Central Pharmaceuticals and Allied Products Wholesales Limited, which is situated at Km 10, Onitsha-Owerri Expressway, Oba, Anambra, was recently performed by His Excellency, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo, the Executive Governor of Anambra State, on Friday, 17 June, 2022.”
Speaking on the regulation of online drug sales, the PCN head noted that the Council has developed a regulation titled “Online Pharmacy Regulations 2021”. According to him, the regulation is officially cited as Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette, Government Notice No. 135.
He added that the regulation covers the aspect of registration and licencing; inspection, monitoring and enforcement; operation of online pharmacy and other general provisions, stressing that the PCN has established a platform of collaboration with Interpol to ensure adequate enforcement of the various provisions.
“This platform is going to provide strong cybersecurity to drive the operation of the regulation,” Ahmed assured.