To achieve success in the campaign against drug abuse and reduce the attendant socio-economic and security challenges caused by the menace in the country, the Nigerian nation must restore the custody of medicines to pharmacists, Pharm. (Mazi) Sam Ohuabunwa, president, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria has said.
Speaking with newsmen at a media parley organised by the PSN and held at Pharmacy House, Anthony, Lagos, recently, Ohuabunwa said pharmacists are the only trained and certified custodians of medicines, adding that the quest to reduce the incidence of drug abuse in Nigeria will not yield the desired result unless pharmacists are restored as custodians of drugs.
He noted that drugs are not just any article of trade but very sensitive substances, noting that the expertise of pharmacists, based on their rigorous training, makes them the only certified professionals to deal in drugs and poisons.
The new PSN helmsman stated further that drugs are poisons and can kill, if used wrongly, adding that the therapeutic benefits of medicines can only be achieved when they are used according to prescription by physicians and counselling by pharmacists.
He stated that the carefree attitude with which drugs were being handled in the country was responsible for the hydra-headed monster of drug abuse which the nation is still struggling to control, warning that if drastic steps are not taken, the nation’s security indices, which are presently frightening, may worsen and the entire security fabric of the nation may collapse.
Ohuabunwa while noting that the country will fare better if control of drugs and medicines is handled by pharmacists as done in civilized climes of the world, stressed that anytime drug issues are discussed in the country and pharmacists are not involved, not much will be achieved.
He added that getting pharmacists involved in drug and health issues is imperative to achieving success because of their knowledge and skill set.
The PSN president also urged the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, to sign the new Pharmacy Bill into law, noting that the law when brought into effect, will not only help in tackling drug abuse but also holistically address all pharmacy-related issues.
He reiterated his commitment to focusing on achieving the seven-point agenda that dominated his manifesto during the campaign for the PSN presidency, pledging that he will facilitate the smooth take off of the National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG), while also promoting equity, fair play, team work and proper remuneration of pharmacists in the public and private sectors.
Ohuabunwa also restated his resolve to support local pharmaceutical manufacturing and local manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) during his tenure as president of PSN, stressing that it is dangerous for Nigeria, with a population of almost 200 million people, to depend on importation for her drug needs.
Also speaking at the parley, Pharm. (Dr) Okey Akpa, the CEO of SKG pharmaceuticals, who is also the chairman of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN), urged the Nigerian government to target the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector for special growth as it has done for the agricultural sector, by injecting 300 billion naira into the sector.
He stated that while the quest to achieve food security by government is laudable, ensuring drug security for the nation is no less important because after food, drug is the most important needs of the citizens that cannot and must not be toyed with.
Akpa stated that he is very happy to work with Mazi Ohuabunwa on the development of the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector, noting that Ohuabunwa’s rich pedigree as an industrial pharmacist makes it easy to discuss and work with him on the best way forward to transform the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector of the nation.
Akpa, who is also the chairman of the Inauguration and Investiture Committee of the PSN, said that the inauguration of Ohuabunwa as the 20th president of PSN and the investiture of some serving and deserving pharmacists who had distinguished themselves in their various fields of endeavour and service to the society and country, as Fellows of PSN schedule for 24 January at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja would be a grand event.
Eminent Nigerians from all walks of life – government, business, academia, and professional bodies – will grace the occasion, Akpa said.