New Telegraph

Fake Drugs: PSN Tasks 6 States On Coordinated Wholesale Centres

…as regulatory agencies seal Sabongeri Market

The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has called on the state governments in Lagos, Anambra, Abia, Enugu, Oyo and Borno to give speedy building plan approvals as well as other requisite logistics support which will pave way for the full construction of Coordinated Wholesale Centre (CWCs) in those states as a condition precedent to catalyse and facilitate the smooth relocation of open drug markets (ODM) which presently operate in Idumota, Lagos; Head- bridge, Onitsha, Anambra; Ariaria, Aba, Abia; Ogbete, Enugu; Agbeni, Ibadan, Oyo and Gamboru, Maiduguri in Borno.

Also, the PSN has urged the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to shift attention to un- registered pharmaceutical premises so as to complete the cycle by tackling the plethora of illegal and unlawful drug stores in hospital facilities especially at private sector level.

The calls followed the PSN commendation of the proactive disposition of the PCN and NAFDAC for seal- ing the Sabongeri Open Drug Market in Kano with a view to enforce the relocation of all operators in this location to the CWCs which has been commissioned for operation in Kano since 2023.

The call is contained in a statement by the PSN and signed by its President, Prof. Cyril Odianose Usifoh. He said it is imperative that the PSN which was in the forefront of agitations for the approved National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG) in 2015 in collaboration with key stakeholders in the pharma industry declared that the NDDG which incorporates the concept of CWCs for genuine pharma players currently in ODM has come to stay going by the Kano experience.

“We at the PSN shall continue to emphasise the benefits inherent in PCN and NAFDAC collaborations which is the only way to redress the monumental problems in the drug distribution channels in our country,” stated Usifoh.

According to the president of PSN, the full implementation of the NDDG will allow full integration of committed players to run their business within the purview of existing statutes that drives the enforcement activities of the PCN and NAFDAC in Nigeria.

This discourse also makes it mandatory for the PSN to encourage the National Assembly to formally complete the amendment bill of the Fake Drug Act currently before it.

“For us at PSN, we must formalise the PCN and NAFDAC relationship through more legislative actions beyond the existing windows in the NAFDAC Act and PCN Act 2022 which both provide for representation of key personnel of each of the agencies on the board of the partnering agency.

The historic joint team action of Saturday, February 17, 2024 remains a watershed which we must make sustainable through the instrumentality of the Federal and State Task Forces on Fake, Counterfeit Drug and Unwholesome Foods in a well packaged and robust Act of Parliament.

“We solicit amongst other reforms increases in the penalties provided for first offenders who violate the Fake Drug Act, while subsequent trespasses must attract jail sentences without an option for fine.

The National Assembly must also look as the possibilities of factoring in appropriate security squads to aid the responsibilities of the State Task Forces as the recent Kano operation of Saturday February 17, 2023 confirms the need for maintenance squads of law enforcement agents to sustain and ensure fruitful outcomes when the Task- force, PCN or NAFDAC embarks on their routine regulatory functions.”

Stakeholders in pharmacy practice have always lamented that while PCN and NAFDAC maintains frequent surveillance, monitoring and control of registered pharmaceutical premises, it obviously closes its eyes on unregistered pharma premises including those located in the plethora of private hospital facilities.

These hospital facilities often carry drug stock far in excess of regular pharmacy facilities irrespective of whether these drugs are registered or not by NAFDAC.

The impunity with which these brazen acts of hospital facilities are conducted encourages them to sell drugs at exorbitant prices far in excess of community pharmacies at private sector level and public pharmacies in government hospitals.

A WHO report puts the cost of drugs in private hospitals at 184 per cent above baseline prices in public pharmacies and 192 per cent above community pharmacies in the private sector.

Finally, the PSN has assured the management teams at both PCN and NAFDAC of its unflinching support and cooperation in the quest to ensure sanity reigns in the entire value chain of our drug distribution channels.

“It is our prayer and hope that we shall have cause to celebrate more breakthroughs in the collaborative efforts of PCN and NAFDAC in the weeks ahead,” Usifoh added.

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