ACPN berates NAFDAC over open drug market
Ozieh, who expressed her opinion during an interview with The Guardian in Lagos recently, commended the National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG) initiated by the Federal Government in 2012 to reform and regulate drug distribution system in Nigeria.
“The NDDG is a bold initiative from the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) to address the chaotic drug distribution system in the country, and it is in the right direction,” she said.
Ozieh further explained, “The NDDG is meant to position the distribution system of the Nigeria pharmaceutical sector in a coordinated fashion, and not witch-hunt non-pharmacists or non- professionals”.
The Permanent Secretary of FMoH, Mr. Linus Awute had announced on June 26, 2015, that the implementation of the guideline would start on July 1, 2015, and categorically mentioned the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) and NAFDAC as the two major bodies to be responsible for enforcement of the guideline.
The ACPN Lagos chairperson said the NDDG has become one of the ammunition that should propel NAFDAC to curb practices in open drug market. “ Over the years, there have been several laws that mandate NAFDAC, as a regulatory body, to arrest and penalise people who hawk drugs, people who operate drug stores in illegal premises, as well as open drug marketers”.
She continued:“The open drug market is a challenge to realising our objectives of the National Health Policy.What we have seen basically is that NAFDAC is not doing what it is positioned to do. And that is why, today, we see people hawking drugs.”
The PCN is the regulatory body in charge of practitioners and premises, while NAFDAC regulates pharmaceutical products. “These two bodies are to work out the modalities of enforcing or of implementing the NDDG, because it is within their purview”, she noted.
Why is ACPN interested in what happens in open drug market? “We are the nearest to the final consumer. We have faced issues of treatment failure, poor treatment outcomes, and these are traceable to the circulation of fake, adulterated, sub-standard, and counterfeit drugs,” Ozieh said.
The Lagos State ACPN boss disclosed that the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the alarm that new antibiotics are not being developed, adding that there is a strong possibility of health crises arising from drug resistance from available drugs. According to experts, open drug market would compound such scenario, as fake and adulterated drugs often finds their ways to consumers through the unregulated market.
“Today, Nigerians are coming down with chronic diseases, like chronic liver conditions and acute kidney injury. And these are pointers that drugs are not being used properly in the country,” Ozieh said, adding that “Nigeria has one of the worse health indices, and it is worrisome.”
The community pharmacist said NAFDAC has to do more to curb open drug market phenomenon.
“The way drugs are peddled shows that we are not coordinated in our distribution system, and NAFDAC, has the capacity to put these open drug markets at bay. It has the capacity to make sure that drugs do not just come into Nigeria without procedure. It is within its portfolio to make sure that Nigeria is not turned into a dumping ground for imported products. It has the mandate and the laws backing it to do this,” she said.
Ozieh, while commending the Ekiti State Government for putting up the State Drug Distribution Centers (SDDCs) in place to commence the NDDG implementation, urged other states, especially Lagos state, to put in place SDDC structures to activate the NDDG implementation.
She appealed to the Federal Government to muster the political will to help people use drug correctly, access drugs at the right place and time and in the right premises, as part of measures to achieve the Universal Health Coverage.
Ozieh urged Nigerians to “imbibe rational use of medicines, because that is what WHO advocates,” adding that “ we do not want Nigerians to continue to use drug in the wrong manner” since adverse drug reaction can destroy vital body organs.
The pharmacist also advised the general public to patronise registered pharmacy premises, which can be identified with the pharmacy emblem of the green cross sign.