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‘Open drug markets threat to public health’

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja
07 July 2022   |   4:13 am
The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, (PCN) has said that open drug markets constitute a threat to public health, adding that a large percentage of products within these markets are not fit for human consumption due to poor handling.

Open drug market

•PCN intensifies efforts to relocate medicine dealers in open drug markets to Coordinated Wholesale Centres
•Commends Gov Soludo for fast tracking plan to relocate popular Head Bridge drug market in Onitsha

The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, (PCN) has said that open drug markets constitute a threat to public health, adding that a large percentage of products within these markets are not fit for human consumption due to poor handling.

Consequently, the council has intensified moves to ensure that all medicine dealers in open drug markets in the country are relocated to Coordinated Wholesale Centres (CWCs) in line with the National Drug Distribution Guidelines.

Meanwhile, the council has sealed about 358 pharmacies and patent medicine shops within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for either operating without registration with PCN or failure to renew premises license.

Registrar, PCN, Ibrahim Ahmed, who disclosed this in Abuja noted that the activities of medicine dealers in the open drug markets are unregulated and the activities within the markets are totally in breach of regulations, adding that PCN is currently partnering with the Government of states where these markets are located and all relevant stakeholders to ensure that they are relocated to Coordinated Wholesale Centres.

He said, “The proliferation of unregistered medicine shops has remained a major obstacle in the actualisation of the National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG). Many of these premises involved in sale of medicines to the public do not have appropriate storage facilities thereby exposing medicines to harsh environmental factors like high temperature and humidity. Some _ other medicines that are photosensitive are exposed to direct sunlight. These conditions cause degradation of medicines thus making many of them unsuitable for human consumption”.

Ahmed observed that the PCN efforts to relocate medicine dealers in the popular head Bridge drug market Onitsha, Anambra stated has started yielding results following the ground breaking ceremony performed by the state Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, at the approved site of the new CWC in Oba where medicine dealers in the head bridge market Onitsha will be relocated to.

He commended the Anambra state governor for demonstrating the political will to actualise the relocation of the Onitsha drug market stressing that PCN will render all technical and regulatory assistance to ensure that the project is completed within the stipulated two years projected by the developers.

According to the registrar, 90 pharmacies and 268 patent medicine shops were sealed out of a total of 584 premises visited during the enforcement exercise in the FCT from Monday to Thursday.

Ahmed explained that some of the sealed premises were dispensing ethical products without the supervision of a pharmacist, and some were in poor sanitary conditions.

He said, “At the end of the current enforcement exercise in FCT, a total of 584 premises were visited. This comprises 185 pharmacies and 399 premises made up of 90 pharmacies and 268 patent medicine shops were sealed for various offenses, some of which include operating without registration with PCN, failure to renew premises license.”

He added that five pharmacies and patent medicine shops were issued compliance directives.

“Four patent medicine vendors were arrested. Three of them were arrested for breaking PCN seals and one for displaying fake patent medicines vendor licence in his shop,” he said.

He further warned that a large percentage of open drug markets are not fit for human consumption due to poor handling and constitute a threat to public health.

Ahmed said the Abuja Zonal Office of the PCN has been directed to give necessary guidance to all those wishing to engage in the pharmaceutical business within the FCT.