(By Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis)
The director of pharmaceutical services, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr Moyosore Adejumo, has explained why Nigeria still relies heavily on patent medicine dealers.
Addressing participants at The Panel, an entrepreneurial summit for young pharmacists, which held at Alausa Central Business District, Lagos, Adejumo said that it is wrong for anyone to victimise patent medicine dealers over their roles in the health sector.
In attendance at the summit were Baba Shehu Ahmed, a director in the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), representing the acting registrar; Pharm. (Mrs) Hauwa Keri, a director at the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC); Bukky George, managing director, HealthPlus Limited; Pharm. Ike Onyechi, managing director, Alpha Pharmacy; and Kunle Ara, managing director, Ara Pharmacy.
Others were Claire Omatseye, managing director, JNC International Limited; Pharm. Ismail Adebayo, chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN); Pharm. (Mrs) Emily Olalere, director, PCN (Lagos Zonal office); Pharm. (Sir) Anthony Akhimien, president, African Pharmacists Forum (APF) and Pharm. Shina Opanubi, coordinator,The Panel.
While fielding questions posed by some of the participants concerning patent medicine dealers, Adejumo said, “Let me categorically say that patent medicine dealers equally have their rights. We register them, especially to areas where pharmacists are in short supply or don’t exist at all. For instance, we need them in remote places like Badagry, Ikorodu and environs.”
To justify her statement, the DPS explained that a team of inspectors once visited a community called ‘Cele Village’ in Ikeja area of Lagos and was shocked to discover there was no single pharmacy in sight.
“Should we leave such areas to suffer? I don’t think so. What’s fair is fair! If you (pharmacists) don’t want them, we admonish you to move to those areas and cover the lapses. Because one thing I can tell you is that they are recognised by the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) and the DPS in Lagos State, for as long as they comply within the ambiance of the law,” she noted. Dr Adejumo however conceded that only the PCN has a final say on the issue.
In the same vein, Pharm. Emily Olalere has cautioned pharmacists to stop fronting for quacks or presenting fake documents to the PCN.
“This is fast becoming a trend. For instance, we got a report from a community pharmacist that an unregistered drug store is operating illegally somewhere. So, we went and sealed it thereby prompting a visit by a couple, none of whom is pharmacist,” she said.
Continuing further, Olalere said that it was later discovered that the drug store was registered by the couple with the aid of a pharmacist in Abuja. Consequently, the PCN director has sent a note of warning to pharmacists in the country to stop fronting for non-professionals for monetary gains.
In a related development, Pharm. Clare Omatseye has called on young pharmacists hoping to operate retail pharmacy to start small but dream big. She enjoined them to imbibe core values such as passion, professionalism and integrity, which will inevitably drive the business to greater heights.
“This level of intimacy is what differentiates your customers from your clients. In truth, anybody can be a customer but it takes time to build a client base, which itself will culminate into partnership,” she said.
Omatseye also encouraged pharmacists not to rely on just one service but to engage in multiple streams of income.