UNIJOS faculty of pharmacy reiterates commitment to quality research, drug production

UNIJOS faculty of pharmacy reiterates commitment to quality research, drug production
Pharm. (Professor) Ikoni Joshua Ogaji

The Dean, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Jos, Pharm. (Professor) Ikoni Joshua Ogaji,  has applauded the efforts of the resource persons in the faculty, saying the faculty is committed to quality research activities that will lead to local production of drugs that will benefit Nigerians.

Ogaji told Pharmanews in a recent interview that the faculty’s research efforts on snake antivenoms have been on-going, adding that there are several other research efforts going on in the faculty that have attained different levels of success, based on the set objectives.

He therefore called on the Nigerian government to make funding of research work in the pharmaceutical sector a top priority, to enhance the development of the sector.

While briefing Pharmanews about  developments in the faculty, Ogaji said: “In 2018, the University of Jos Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences received the approval of the university senate to have two new departments: Department of Pharmaceutics, and Department of Pharmaceutical Microbiology and Biotechnology.

“The faculty currently has seven departments which are the Department of Pharmaceutical Technology and Industrial Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutics, Department of Pharmaceutical Microbiology and Biotechnology, Department of Pharmacognosy and Traditional Medicine, Department of Pharmacology, Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacy Practice, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

He added that: “All these departments are running postgraduate programmes at master’s and PhD levels. The Faculty runs M.Sc and MPhil/PhD in Biotechnology. Our postgraduate programmes have both national (NUC) and international accreditation (HCERES, France). In collaboration with African Resource Center (ARC), the faculty has developed a curriculum for M.Sc. Supply Chain Management and Logistics and is being processed for approval and take-off in 2021.

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“The faculty is the first of the faculties of pharmacy that have been graduating pharmacists to get the approval of the National Universities Commission (NUC) to run the Doctor of Pharmacy programme (PharmD) in Nigeria. We recognise that Bayero University, Kano, was the first to receive NUC approval to run the PharmD programme in Nigeria and University of Benin, though the pioneer university to run PharmD, attained that status much later.

“The PharmD students of the University of Jos are now in their 300 level. The PharmD conversion programme of the university has been approved by the University Senate and will be advertised in the coming weeks.”

While expatiating on the determination of the faculty to conduct quality researches, that will lead to the production of effective locally made drugs capable of boosting the nation’s pharmaceutical industry, Ogaji said: “The faculty has not relented in its efforts in teaching and research and we have made modest progress in our various research efforts. Research on anti-fertility agent from local source that gives a cover for about 12 months has been under investigations in the last 20 years or so, and more than ever before, the efforts are rewarding, judging by the data and information gathered on the drug.

“Research on anti-snake venom and mushroom have been on-going. There are several other research efforts going on in the faculty that have reached different levels of successes, based on the set objectives. Efforts to use locally sourced excipients in our pharmaceuticals are at different levels of success. Several individuals in the faculty have won research grants and obtained patents.”

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Moreover, as nations of the world continue to make effort to come up with drugs that will effectively combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed over a million people since February, 2020, Ogaji stated that members of the faculty are currently working relentlessly to find a drug candidate for the deadly virus.

According to him: “COVID-19 pandemic is real. It has brought the world and its economy to its knees. Jos is part of the places that were worst hit in Nigeria. Initially we were very comfortable, until the test centres came close to us and the number of positives began to rise. We lost a pharmacist, and his death was said to be due to the infection.

“The Plateau State Governor, Barrister Simon Lalong needs to be commended for setting up COVID-19 and other infectious diseases committee that is headed by one of our own, Prof. Noel N. Wannang and a team of other pharmacists from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Jos.

“This singular effort is in response to and in recognition of the responsibility of the government for the healthcare of its people. the good work coming from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the unavoidable and undeniable role of herbal medicines in our healthcare system.

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“Notwithstanding the existing strike, the faculty has since risen to the occasion and provided quality hand sanitizers for the communities and members of the public to safeguard them against spurious and dangerous articles in the name of hand sanitizers.

“Currently, faculty members are in different research teams trying to find solution from the existing herbal remedies for COVID-19. In addition, molecular docking and other efforts are on-going to rapidly find a drug candidate.”

The dean also noted that a team of researchers, drawn largely from the faculty are currently working with the Plateau State Government to address the disease from the drug point of view.

“We are also exploring other areas that can benefit the society with regard to COVID-19. The Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences has dedicated, talented and focused scientists that are working hard in teams to use our locally available herbal materials for this and other conditions.  The teams are currently working on a number of materials,” Ogaji noted.

He therefore called on the Nigerian government to as a matter of urgency begin to vigorously pursue a new strategy that can ensure adequate supply of the nation’s healthcare needs locally.

“Nigeria has the requisite human resources that can favourably compete with the best in the world under an enabling environment. The research and working environments of our pharmacists and other scientists should therefore be improved for maximum output,” Ogaji said.


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