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ACPN faults tier classification of patent medicine vendors

By Chukwuma Muanya
30 May 2019   |   4:11 am
Pharmacists under the aegis of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) have faulted the proposal of the Federal Ministry...

Pharmacists under the aegis of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) have faulted the proposal of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) to create three-tiers of eligible players in the sales of Over The Counter (OTC) drugs under the wide classification of Patent & Proprietary Medicine Vendors Licence in Nigeria.

Until now, this proposal has been subjected to a lot of critical appraisal in the last few days that it was made public through a publication.

The ACPN said the entropy this move of the FMOH has generated compels the association as the primary constituency that continues to bear the burden of an unwieldy drug distribution channel to publicly condemn the plan.

The ACPN in a statement signed by the National Chairman, Samuel Adekola, and the National Secretary, Bose Idowu, enjoined the management of the FMOH to immediately convoke a full consultation of the critical stakeholders in the Pharmaceutical sector which include Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), ACPN, the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the department of Food and Drug Services of the FMOH to deliberate on this urgent matter arising with a view to charting a credible path moving forward.

The Association noted: “It remains a major irony that every turn when we should be making progress, policy shifts and somersaults have been embraced by the leadership of the FMOH to deny us progress.

“We at ACPN have also resolved to handle this matter, which revolves around our future and destiny with all the smartness and seriousness it deserves.”

The community pharmacists called on the Buhari Administration to carefully evaluate the antecedents of persons who can steer the ship of the health sector successfully against the background of the country’s failed health system which continues to receive extremely poor ratings because we have always anchored our healthcare administration on peculiar indigenous mode despite the reality that it is a global phenomenon which needs to be conducted as a universal affair.

The ACPN said the next set of health ministers must be structured to be “fit and proper”.

The pharmacists said it is expedient they should be experienced administrators or managers of cognate exposure that will promote team-spirit that will allow all stakeholders to bring their expertise to bear in public interest as it is an established fact that healthcare delivery is a multi-disciplinary task.

The ACPN said for the sake of posterity, they shall seek approval from necessary quarters to seek a legal redress of this proposal on tier-classification as canvassed by the outgoing Prof. Isaac Adewole, led administration at the FMOH if their admonitions and appeals for dialogue are not taken seriously in the days ahead.

The concept of PPMVL was originally structured to be a stop-gap mechanism to make drugs available in locations where there existed palpable shortage of professional services in the pharmaceutical sector. This was commonplace in the rural areas and even some State capitals in Northern Nigeria, which appeared underserved even in contemporary times. In the early days, the PPMVLs were made to relocate once there was confirmation of pharmaceutical presence through registered pharmacies.

The ACPN said it is aware of efforts by PCN to review the activities of PPMVL holders to make them more effective and to comply with the extant law that established them. “This to our best knowledge is still an ongoing discussion; hence we do not understand the haste by the FMOH to announce the tier classification of PPMVL holders and came out to declare that Patent Medicine Dealers has come to stay.”

The ACPN noted: “We find it extremely important to caution on the larger implications of the unnecessary stratification which opens a supposed tier-two of PPMVL holders which will be made up of health professionals. One wonders why FMOH and its appendages would formulate a policy that opens the health system to another round of avoidable entropy. If the global norm, which is grounded on international best practices rightly presumes that Pharmacists are experts in drug and therefore must superintend the sales, use and dispensing of drugs through licensure.

“Why is the FMOH attempting to mutilate this lawful configuration? In one breath, the FMOH and its parastatals are perceived as the major proponents of the Pharmacy Council Bill which already addresses the fundamental issue of accessibility to affordable, safe and efficacious drugs through the concept of Satellite Pharmacies. This same bill is clear that Pharmacy Technicians, a globally recognized cadre in the pharmaceutical value chain, will legally through statutes subsequently drive Patent Medicine Vending in Nigeria because this cadre is trained in the handling of OTC drugs in facilities accredited by the PCN.

“Why then do we need this most unfortunate distraction orchestrated by the FMOH? The membership of the ACPN is certainly not comfortable with the motive that drove this tier classification of OTC drugs because it is a potential instrument to further worsen the chaotic drug distribution network in our country.”

The ACPN said it is very apparent that the tier-classification of OTC drug by varying service providers appears to be self-serving and is actually a loophole by the FMOH to probably legitimise custody of drugs by a favoured profession, which has always carried out this endeavour unlawfully in their private hospitals.

It added: “It is a statement of fact that regulators have never monitored or controlled drug stocks in private hospital facilities in Nigeria. This new tier-classification will only provide a legal template to short-circuit existing or proposed pharmacy statutes in the totality of regulation, enforcement, monitoring and control because all a private hospital needs to do to lawfully stock medicine is to annex a patent medicine shop to the hospital facility.

“In a country where it has always been impossible to regulate the activities of those who indulge in drug sales and dispensing, it is only a matter of common-sense that what the FMOH is undertaking if this proposal is allowed to be implemented is the final burial ceremony of Pharmacy practice in Nigeria.”