Pharmacists under the aegis of the Association of Community of Nigeria (ACPN), Lagos State Chapter, has made good its threat to embark on a two-hour strike over failure of the Federal Government to assent the long-awaited Pharmacy Bill, despite its strategic importance in the fight against drug abuse.
Members of the association, throughout the state closed their pharmacies on Tuesday, 7 May 2019, for two hours and declined attending to customers- except for those in need of emergency medicines, in order to draw President Muhammadu Buhari’s attention to the burning issue.
The pharmacists asserted that further delay in assenting to the bill could result in loss of a great opportunity to organise the drug distribution system of the country along global best practices, as well as reducing the country’s growing drug abuse problem.
Lagos ACPN, in a press briefing with journalists at its secretariat in Ogudu, Lagos, noted that the Pharmacy Council Bill, having undergone all the legislative processes, was passed by both houses of the national assembly in 2018 and sent to the president for assent.
The ACPN Chairman, Pharm. Olabanji Benedict Obideyi, however lamented that the association had been inundated with the report that the bill had been lost in transit between the Presidency and the National Assembly, adding that it is absurd, incongruous and unacceptable that a bill done in public interest would “suddenly developed wings and fly away.”
According to him :“It is a national embarrassment that a bill with such importance is missing and both the arms of government are yet to give any official statement regarding it, and we also consider this act, an act of corruption, with the intent to jeopardise the nation’s healthcare system. Meanwhile, we expect that all hands should be on deck to find this bill in order to truly prove that this administration has zero tolerance for corruption, as we are being made to believe”.
Obideyi said the reason for down tooling was to appeal to the President, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari to assent the bill and to inform Nigerians about the frustrations of the association about the way medicines are been abused and peddled with utter disregard for the lives of the citizens.
Also speaking, the duo of the Chairman, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm. (Mrs) Bolanle Adeniran and Secretary, ACPN, Lagos, Pharm. Jonah Okotie, said it was unfortunate that the most important legal instrument that could curb drug abuse, is seemingly being treated with levity, adding that the bill, if signed, would empower the PCN in its regulatory activities, as well as making adequate regulatory framework for pharmacists.
Speaking further, Adeniran noted that the bill, if found and signed, will guarantee that Nigerians have access to safe, efficacious and affordable medicines, saying these are cardinal responsibility of every government to its citizens.
While inspecting some of the premises across the state that were closed, the zonal coordinator, Gbagada Zone, Pharm. (Mrs) Moyinoluwa Oshin told our correspondent that all her members in the zone complied with the directive from the National Executive Council (NEC), to shut down from 12pm to 2pm, in order to send a strong message to the presidency, while appealing to the federal government, to heed to this clarion call.