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How to redress menace of drug abuse, misuse in Nigeria, by ACPN

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National Chairman of ACPN, Samuel Adekola

Pharmacists under the aegis of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) have made recommendations on how to redress the menace of drug abuse and misuse in Nigeria.

National Chairman of ACPN, Samuel Adekola, at the ongoing six-day 38th Annual National Conference of the association in Kano, which began on Monday July 1, 2019, cautioned the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on the hike in registration fees of drugs and other regulated products within its purview as well as appealed for Presidential assent of the Pharmacy Council Bill 2017.

The theme of the conference is ‘Tackling the Menace of Drug Abuse in Nigeria’: A Disruptive Innovative Approach.

Adekola said the ACPN and other major blocs as well as interest groups have taken the lead in bringing the challenges of drug abuse and misuse to front burners in the last few months to encourage government at all levels and critical stakeholders appreciate the immensity of the aberration that confronts the country as a people.

The pharmacist said the social menace which is boosted by challenges of unemployment and under-employment of youths and even the elderly deserves more serious handling if they shall not be held responsible for raising a new generation of drug addicts.

On how to redress the menace of drug abuse and misuse in the country, Adekola called on the National Assembly to see an urgent need to amend the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Act to give room for more professional engagement of registered Pharmacists in the day to day management of this very sensitive drug regulatory agency.

“Specifically, the NDLEA must be structured to have a Directorate of Consumer Enlightenment and Protection which must be headed by a registered Pharmacist because of his widely acclaimed expertise as drug expert. This directorate will be activated to champion unprecedented advocacy in consumerism with the ultimate advantage of generating a resolve to shun drug abuse by our teeming youths and other vulnerable groups in larger society. It is apparent that we contend with huge numbers of chronic drug abusers in the country at the moment,” he said.

The pharmacist said the NDLEA enabling Act of Parliament must therefore be tinkered with to establish rehabilitation centres preferably along the lines of the six geo-political zones in the country.

He further explained: “As conscionable drug experts we advocate that citizens must enjoy a privilege of been taken care of by the state in grave moments like this which if poorly managed completely jeopardizes their destinies.

“Our organisation volunteers to throw more light on these proposals if the Government seeks collaboration in resolve to cleanse the land of drug related abuse and misuse.”

On the review of drug registration tariffs and related matters by NAFDAC, Adekola said: “In the last few days one of the most topical issues in the media remains references to the possibility of an imminent hike in drug prices which might be as high as 100 per cent.

“The PSN Lagos State branch in particular raised the bar at a Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry Roundtable where hindrances to running smooth healthcare businesses were evaluated.

“It is important to appreciate the immediate response of the Governing Council of NAFDAC which suspended the 350 per cent raise in the registration of drugs and other regulated products within the purview of NAFDAC.

“The ACPN believes the NAFDAC Secretariat continues to march on the right path in setting an agenda of excellence in the totality of regulatory process and controls.”

He, however, said this success story however can only be boosted when critical stakeholders are on the same page with NAFDAC in the formulation and execution of policies.

Adekola said the Governing Council of NAFDAC has called for stakeholders engagement in the review of drug registration tariffs which is a step in the right direction. “We at ACPN strongly urges NAFDAC to make these consultations all encompassing as usual to include the relevant technical groups of the PSN and of course the PSN as umbrella template for all practitioners of goodwill,” he said.

The pharmacist said this is the time to decisively come to terms of settlement with regards to service and orphan drugs which continues to unsettle a vast majority of ACPN members and those who seek their unavoidable services for wellness.

Adekola said the ACPN proposes that the committee of stakeholders which will be party to reviewing tariffs be made a Standing Committee of the profession/players, this logically will reduce the recurrence of stress junctions in their affairs.

The ACPN also appealed for Presidential assent of the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria Bill 2017. Adekola said: “For the record since the time may not be ripe to celebrate, but history will never forget the sacrificial closure of our premises on the 7th May, 2019 to protest the delay in signing the much anticipated Pharmacy Council Bill 2017 which was, as at the time, in the ‘Bermuda Triangle’.

“For the first time in history of Nigeria, the Community Pharmacies laid down their tools and services, to speak out for Nigerians. The level of compliance all over the federation, the importance ascribed to it and the seriousness with which ACPN members, including elders, enrolled to implement the resolution of NEC, makes one feel nostalgic. You made it easy to be your Chief Servant; I am greatly indebted to you.”

He said although the Bill is yet to be signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, the good news is that it has been found. Adekola commended the Chairman of this occasion, Gen. Buba Marwa, for his unrelenting effort in favour of the Bill.

The pharmacist said the value chain of drug distribution network is in complete tatters particularly because of the unresolved challenges of fake drugs and drug abuse which continues to impose very substantial morbidity and mortality on consumers of health.

He said some of the inherent benefit package of the PCN Bill just for the sake of emphasis in summary include:
*Redresses poor regulatory control in the affairs of practitioners and the facilities they run by giving specific powers to authorisation to enforce to PCN and its pharmaceutical inspectors.
*Streamlining and due recognition to all cadres of practitioners within the ambit of PCN. The Satellite Pharmacy concept has the potentials of boosting Good Pharmacy Practice (GPP) as Registered Pharmacists who have defined practice experience can offer services to consumers through professional linkages.
*The PCN Bill takes cognisance of global best practices by empowering the pharmacy workforce from primary care to tertiary care level. This will help to stem the tide of drug abuse and faking because drug stocks will gradually become the prerogative of trained hands.

Adekola said the PCN Bill remains a highly sought after treasure that opens all doors of restriction that hitherto confined pharmacy practice to the back doors of monumental failure.

Adekola had earlier at a press briefing in Lagos said the association choose to hold the conference in Kano State because northern part of country has highest number of people in terms of drug abuse especially among youths.

He added the country needs all stakeholders and professionals in the industry to join hands together to move the country forward.

He said: “The conference will feature road side walk among our members to create awareness about drug abuse because we aimed at increasing our contributions to national building and improve the well being of the citizens of our country in general.”

Adekola said his organization was doing a lot to rid the society of the problem, by ensuring that the drugs are available in right quantities to those who need them for medical and research purposes, while ensuring that they are unavailable to those who abuse them.

“We regret to note that despite our efforts in achieving this, several drugs in unapproved strengths continue to infiltrate our country through our porous borders. This is especially true of tramadol, and we will continue to work until we stamp this out,” he said.


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