In what appears to be a unanimous endorsement for DrugStoc’s digital inclusion drive in drug distribution in Nigeria, key stakeholders in the Pharmaceutical industry including President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Prof. Cyril Usifoh; Registrar, Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN) Pharm. Babashehu Ahmed; Former PSN President, Pharm. (Alhaji) Ahmed I. Yakasai, and leading pharma manufacturers in the country, have pledged their maximum support for the initiative, describing it as the only way forward to quality healthcare in Nigeria.
The eminent pharmacists who acknowledged the perennial challenge of chaotic drug distribution in the country said digital inclusion in the pharmaceutical space will go a long way in checking the unethical practices of middlemen, which make quality medicines inaccessible to hospitals and pharmacies in due time.
They also described it as a similar model to the National Drug Distribution Guidelines, which, according to them, is at different stages of development in different states, as they harped on its potential to assemble all drug distributors into a coordinated market where all their activities will be regulated, thus, eliminating unwanted persons from the distribution channel.
At the DrugStoc’s Manufacturers Open Day held recently at their new facility in Ojota, Lagos, Prof. Usifoh, who was represented by National Secretary, PSN, Pharm. Gbenga Falabi expressed optimism in the Nigerian healthcare delivery system with the likes of DrugStoc – a cloud-based platform that makes quality medicines easily accessible to healthcare providers, springing up.
He said “When the initiative came, I knew that was the way to go because falsifying medicines is a global problem which must be tackled headlong. The e-healthcare platform is the future of the industry, which is already taking root now, which explains why PCN has already gazetted online pharmacy regulation, to enhance the smooth operation of digital drug distribution in the country.
“We are working assiduously to ensure that the National Drug Distribution Guidelines works. So I want to encourage all not to give up on Nigeria, as software applications and other technological devices have solutions to the challenges in the pharmaceutical industry. That is why I want to congratulate the co-founders of DrugStoc for the great work they are doing in the pharma space.”
The PCN Registrar, Ahmed, who was represented by the Lagos State Zonal Coordinator, Dr Ukamaka Okafor, described DrugStoc as an iPhone which has several functions for the pharma sector, which are yet to be known by most players in the space. Lauding their giant strides for the past five years they have been in operation, he urged them to create more awareness about their roles, as well as mentor younger pharmacists, who wish to toe their steps.
“We are pleased with what DrugStoc is doing, but they need to create more awareness. It is obvious they have a lot of value to add to the pharmaceutical sector which many people don’t know. There are some people that have the money to do what they are doing in the country but they don’t have the facts and the knowledge, they don’t have the exposure.
“What concerns us the most in what they are doing is not profit, but access to safe medicines to the populace and I feel that is also part of their goals, aside from profit-making.
“They can enlighten, they can add more values in terms of relationship or collaboration and as I said before, they can mentor other people in the art of safe medicines distribution”, he advised.
Pharm. (Alh.) Ahmed I. Yakasai, former PSN president, and managing director, PharmaPlus Nigeria Ltd, commended the co-founders of DrugStoc, Chibuzo Opara and Adham Yehia, for the innovative work they are doing in the provision of safe, accessible and affordable medicines. In spite of the challenges most partnerships encountered in the country, he said theirs is exceptional, urging them to remain transparent in their dealings with each other.
He asserted that partnership is tough in Nigeria, but they are getting it right. “Good governance is key, none of you should shortchange each other. I know they are people of quality that is why they are offering quality service”.
He identified drug distribution in Nigeria as a great headache, which has been so chaotic, with the four markets of Idumota, Sabo Gari, Ariara, and Onitsha, being major open drug markets. “Luckily enough, with these new National Drug Distribution Guidelines championed by the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, and those at the helm of affairs at the Federal Government Level, we have now agreed that we’ll have to go in the way of technology to sanitise the system.
“We need to have all the operators in one place where you have NAFDAC, PCN, NDLEA, to checkmate them, to regulate what they are doing, through the Whole Sale Coordinating Centres, where you have all these offices, and there will be random checking of products coming into the centre”, he said.
In an exclusive interview with the co-founders, Opara and Yehia, shortly after the programme, they expressed profound gratitude to the over 200 stakeholders they have been doing business with for the past five years, describing it as an interesting journey. They also acknowledged the support of regulators in midwifing the digital distribution platform, as they have enjoyed their goodwill all along.
The partners also narrated how they’ve enhanced the growth of many pharmacies through the provision of digital tools, inventory assistance, supply chain management and flexible payment options to enable them to stock more products for patients’ best outcomes.
According to them “One of the things that digital inclusion has achieved over the last five years that we’ve seen is obviously moving the quality standards to a different level, improving the track and trace in the industry, improving the business for a lot of pharmaceuticals. We’ve seen a lot of people join us, who had one pharmacy, and then within a couple of years, they were able to open 2,3,4 pharmacies.
“It became very simple for them because when they work with us, we support their businesses, support their supply chain management, give them tools to help them manage their business, as well as help them with the inventory. Much more, we give them financial support, as we offer them flexible payment options to boost their businesses”.
The next five years, they said, are looking exciting, as they have great plans to work with all pharma manufacturers and importers in the country.