Until the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) Board is constituted, enforcement of disciplinary action on erring pharmacists may be an utopian concept, as the society has got no power to implement disciplinary action without the board in place, the Chairman, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Lagos State Branch, Pharm.(Mrs) Bolanle Adeniran has said.
The chairman, who spoke with Pharmanews during the monthly general meeting of the association, held Thursday, 10 May, 2018, said the absence of the board for two to three years now has left so much vacuum in the various aspects of the profession, thus, she called on the government to establish the board as soon as possible.
Her words: “PSN as a society has rules and regulations guiding the operations of her members, but the disciplinary aspect of it is the responsibility of the PCN board, and unless the board is constituted, all our efforts in inspecting pharmacies and patent medicine vendors will be activities in futility.
“We are calling on the government to rise up to the task and do the needful, by setting up the board, because the absence of the board has had several negative impacts on the profession”, she stressed.
Reacting to the role played by the pharmacist in the BBC documentary, she described the Emzor’s representative as a disgrace to the profession, stating that any pharmacist caught violating the rules and regulation guiding the distribution of controlled drugs will henceforth be sanctioned.
“We have sounded it loud and clear that nobody will be spared any longer, even if pharmacists are involved, the law will have its full course, because we are supposed to be caring for the health of the populace, we are not to jeopardise their health .If pharmacists are caught doing what is wrong, they will be dealt with”, she warned.
Also speaking with the immediate past chairman of the branch, Pharm. Gbenga Olubowale, in an interview during the meeting, he opined that the outright ban of codeine importation is not the solution to the problem of illegal distribution of controlled drugs, as smugglers will definitely have their ways in smuggling the drug into the country, due to the porous borders.
Olubowale, who noted the essence of research into the root cause of illegal drug distribution, which he charged the government to look into, said it could be traced to the open drug markets in the country, and until the issue is dealt with, the problem will persist. He said prior to the revealing BBC documentary, pharmacists have been calling government’s attention, to the increasing incidence of drug abuse in the country, but no one seems to hear, until an international correspondent had to open it up.
He said: ”Does it mean that we don’t believe in our own report any longer that we have to wait for a foreign correspondence to tell us what to do? And suddenly, the minister of health, federal ministry of health, NAFDAC, everybody started making a reactionary approach, which is wrong. Banning codeine is not the solution, because up till now, and till tomorrow, codeine will still be used in certain critical treatment. What is needed is for us to control the usage, to ensure that codeine gets to only those who need it.
“Accessibility to codeine and other dangerous drugs need to be controlled, but the root cause of this problem can be traced to the open drug markets, which are the sources of chaotic drug distribution in the country, and no one seems to be addressing it.
“For close to three to four years now, we have had in place the National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG), but the government has not deemed it fit for implementation, as they have been shifting the goal post till date. Now they have told us that by January 2019, hopefully, that it will come to place, but I don’t think this is feasible, because by January 2019, the government of the day will be preparing for election, and they will be careful not to hurt these people involved in illegal activity, because they need their votes”, he stated.
On the activities of the Pharmaceutical Inspection Committee (PIC) in curbing unauthorised dealers of drugs in the society, Pharm. Tayo Adeogun, narrated the outcome of the last outing of the committee to the members. He said they inspected Mushin, Papa Ajao, Ilasamaja areas on 24 April, 2018, and sealed a total of 60 premises which were not licensed to dispense drugs.
He noted that after they have been penalised, the non-licensed drug dealers were mandated to sign an affidavit, to ensure that they do not engage in illegal activity any longer. To further curb their activities, they were directed to sell off their premises to pharmacists for better drug distribution.