It will no longer be business as usual for people selling drugs online without registering with the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), as the agency has described such activity as criminal offence.
The Council disclosed this on Tuesday at a stakeholders meeting, as it hinted on its plan to commence registration and licensing of all internet-based providers of pharmaceutical services in the country from January 2022.
Addressing stakeholders at the meeting, the Registrar, PCN, Dr Elijah Mohammed, revealed the readiness of the Council to enforce regulations on the sales of medicines online.
He also mentioned that the Council has got the backing of the Nigeria Police Command to punish any offender of the law.
According to Mohammed: “When there is no law, there is no crime. Now that the regulations have been put in place, it is going to be a criminal offence to do an online pharmacy practice without registering with the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria.
“It is very necessary to safe guide the health of Nigerians. Over the years, a lot of online pharmacy practice have been going on with no regulation.
“We have the support of the inspector general of police. He has designated someone to serve as a liaison officer between the PCN and the Interpol department of the office of the IGP.
“So, if there is any reporting, they will help us to carry out an investigation and then we will bring the offender of the law to justice”.
The Registrar explained the essence of the meeting, saying it was to intimate all stakeholders in the pharmaceutical sector on the requirement of online pharmacy registration as non-pharmaceutical outlets are qualified to participate .
He said each online pharmacy must have a superintendent pharmacist, must be registered with the CAC, and possess all other official documentation for operation.
“The major requirement is that the firm must have someone who will be responsible to the PCN. That is a superintendent pharmacist.
“So, they must have a pharmacist. They must also have a physical building with an address that we can be tracked.
“They must equally comply with other regulations like having a CAC registration for the company and having the relevant document to prove it. Those are the major things that are needed for now,” he said.
Pharmanewsonline reports that there are several health outlets selling medicines online including MyPharmacy:HealthPlus Pharmacy; WellaHealth; The Drug Store: PharmacyGate; Konga Health, Jumia Pharmacy, among others.
In her response to the PCN’s regulation, representative of online stakeholders, Pharm. (Mrs) Abimbola Adebakin, said those going into online sales of medicines are only filling existing gaps in the demands for medicines.
While admitting that the Council’s initiative is a welcomed intervention, she noted that the regulation of online sales of medicines will make Nigerians feel safer to purchase drugs from registered online firms.
“We saw a gap and we are filling it. When many people are looking for drugs that are genuine and affordable, they go to the physical pharmacies but sometimes, they cannot find the drug, not because the physical pharmacies do not want it to be available, but because they cannot cater to all the needs of everyone.
“We, however, urge the PCN not to be draconian in their implementation of the guidelines and to also be ready for a review of the law, because we are both learning.
“It is very vital for digital health to be promoted in Nigeria and Africa at large”, she stated.