Experts and scholars in the pharmaceutical profession, including Prof. (Pharm.) Azuka Oparah of the University of Benin, have said that in order to provide drug therapy responsibly, pharmacists must take responsibility for identifying, preventing, and resolving drug therapy problems of patients in a consistent manner.
Prof. Oparah, who is a Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (FPSN), made his submission while delivering a keynote address on the topic, “Patient Safety Issue in Nigeria: The Community Pharmacists Perspectives”, at the Continuing Education Conference organised by the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Lagos State Branch, at NECA House, Alausa Ikeja, Lagos, last December.
The university don stated that no medicine is absolutely safe, noting that every drug or medicine has two inherent qualities of benefits and risks.
“The decision to medicate is based on a balance of probability that the benefits of use outweigh the risks. The harm derivable from drugs varies from one agent to another. It is upon this risk stratification that national and international laws classify medicines into two main groups, namely, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and prescription only medicines (POM)” Oparah said.
Speaking further, Oparah explained that drugs in the class of prescription-only medicines (POM) do not have high safety margin, unlike the over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, adding that in order to protect public health, decision to use them should not be left in the hands of the general public but a learned intermediary.
“Such medicines are to be dispensed by a registered pharmacist on the prescription of a doctor.Also, the manufacturers of such medicines owe a duty of care to communicate all known and potential inherent risks to the learned intermediary, who in turn, owes a duty of care to convey same information to the consumers,”he urged.
Prof. Oparah also stressed that the goal of pharmaceutical care is to assure the quality of the medication use process through collaborative efforts, adding that the decision to take medications should be based on the balance of probability that the benefits outweigh the risks and that pharmacists owe a professional obligation to guide members of the public to use OTC medicines responsibly.
In his goodwill message at the event, Pharm. Olumide Akintayo, president, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), commended the Lagos State ACPN for choosing the theme, “Patient Safety Issues in Nigeria”, saying it was inconsonance with the goals of the National Drug Policy in Nigeria.
“What community pharmacists are simply saying is that they want to be in the vanguard of creating an environment whereby Nigerians will consume safe medicines at an affordable cost and accessible at alltimes, even in the remotest part of the country,” he said.
Akintayo also said pharmacists had been working with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in order to come up with a policy that would cover access to medicine as a human right, adding that the time had come for the country to get it right. He also urged community pharmacists and other technical arms of the PSN to keep supporting the NHRC and its mission.
Also, the duo of Registrar, Pharmacist Council of Nigeria, (PCN), Pharm. N.A.E Mohammed and Chairman, Lagos ACPN, Pharm. Aminu Abdulsalam Yinka, maintained that the patient is the major consideration in safety issues in healthcare, adding that what marks out health professionals is their focus on patient safety, not money-making.
Speaking further, Pharm Aminu disclosed that the Continuous Education Conference programme in Lagos has been consistent over the years because of the importance that the Lagos State ACPN places on knowledge and effective service delivery.
“There are new trends even in the management of ailmentsand in order to cope with these, we need to regularly update ourselves, so that we can make positive impacts in the lives of the public. The continuous education programme is a sine qua non in our policy, and in conjunction with the regulatory authority, it is also mandatory”.
Aminu noted that this year’s programme was approved by the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) because of the consistency and quality over the years. He said a two–unit credit would be awarded to all pharmacists that attended the programme.
Speaking earlier, chairman of the event, Pharm. Deji Oshinoiki, commended the ACPN, which he described as the window to the pharmacy practice as well as forerunner of the practice, for being consistent in organising the programme every year.
“The world is changing, so also is health care practice; hence the need to consistently update our knowledge in order to meet up with what is going on around the world.And I am very happy that the programme has never failed to live up to expectations since inception”, Oshinoiki intoned.
Other dignitaries at the event include: Prof Anthonia Ogbera, one of the guest lecturers; Pharm. (Mrs) Joke Bakare, managing director, Medplus Pharmacy, also a guest lecturer; Pharm. Gbolagade Iyiola, national secretary (PSN); Pharm. Adeoye Afuye, national secretary (ACPN); Pharm. Madehin Gafar Olanrewaju; Pharm. Tony Oyawole; Pharm. Felix Anieh Felix; Pharm. Akintunde Obembe, among others