Why I feel sorry for Nigerian pharmacists – Dr. Femi Olaleye
(By Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis)
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Optimal Healthcare Limited, Dr. Femi Olaleye, has explained why he continually worries over the challenges that the average pharmacist in the country faces.
Addressing participants during a workshop on “Leadership, Effective Communication Skills and Financial Management for Health Care Personnel” held at Pharmanews Training Centre, Maryland, Lagos on 20th August, 2013, the medical doctor remarked that the rate at which pharmacists in the country were grappling to contain drug counterfeiters in the society was quite alarming.
“Until now, pharmacy training used to be quite expensive. Not many Nigerian schools were offering the course. But the same cannot be said today, as more public universities are now offering it,” he recalled.
Olaleye said he could not imagine how pharmaceutical manufacturers would go through the rigour of getting potent drugs in place for the wellness of patients and some unscrupulous elements would travel out to countries to fake them.
“In some cases, they will even mislabel the products, thereby putting the lives of innocent people at risk. Where a particular medicine is 50mg, these fakers often add another ‘0’ to make it 500mg. An innocent doctor sees it and recommends the dosage, as part of his prescription.
“This perhaps explains why so many people have died, and are still dying, because of adverse drug reaction, overdose or other mishaps. Consequently, many medical professionals and pharmaceutical manufacturers have been penalized, while the real perpetrators of drug counterfeiting are at large,” he observed.
According to the distinguished medical doctor, even patent medicine dealers today recruit people for apprenticeship, after which they begin to see themselves as qualified pharmacists. In their quest to make quick money, these self-acclaimed drug dispensers are known to carry out diagnosis and prescription with impunity.
“I don’t understand how a chemist prescribes anti-inflammatory pills to be taken before meals or why another would claim a patient has spinal cord injury from a cut? Ridiculous, to say the least! Same thing is happening in hospitals today, where people who work in mortuary section started seeing themselves as pathologists,” he lamented.
As a way out of the malaise, Dr. Olaleye suggested certain measures, which include waging a decisive war against drug counterfeiting, ensuring strict regulation of the practice of pharmacy and carrying out proper training of chemists.
“Also, there is the need to remove the barriers to entry for adequate pharmacy business for new and ethical entrants, as well as to create synergies among patent medicine dealers, chemists, doctors, nurses, lab scientists and pharmacists,so as to do away with inferiority complex. After all, nobody can claim to know everything,” he said.
In attendance at the Pharmanews workshop were doctors, pharmacists, nurses, medical lab scientists and other clinical, administrative and technical personnel in the health care and pharmaceutical industry.