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Pharmacists advocate innovation to achieve access to drugs, vaccines

By Chukwuma Muanya
04 December 2019   |   4:18 am
To address issues plaguing the pharmaceutical sector and to boost national development, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has recommended that innovation is required if the country is to achieve sustainable access to medicines...

Director General, NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye

To address issues plaguing the pharmaceutical sector and to boost national development, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has recommended that innovation is required if the country is to achieve sustainable access to medicines, vaccines and pharmaceutical workforce (SDG3) within the framework of Universal Health Access.

The Society observed that inequitable access to priority medicines and pharmacists remain a huge security risk and injustice to the Nigerian populace and called on government and all relevant stakeholders to prioritise translation of innovations in pharmaceutical value chain and education at all times.

The PSN in a communiqué issued at the end of its 92nd Annual National Conference tagged “Crocodile City 2019” held in Kaduna admonished pharmaceutical manufacturers, stakeholders, and educators to embrace a commitment strategy of collaborations through coalition building, cooperation and partnership with Nigerians in the Diaspora for accelerated progress in the industry within a short period.

The President, PSN, Mazi Sam I. Ohuabunwa, and the Secretary General, Emeka Duru, jointly signed the communiqué.

The conference in recognised the important role of workforce migration as highlighted in Federation of International Pharmacists (FIP’s) Global Workforce report (2018) and applauds the various collaborations with Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas (NAPPSA), United States Pharmacopoeia’s Promoting Quality of Medicines programme (USPPQM), and others, targeted at filling the gaps in skills and training for the Pharmaceutical workforce. The conference called for the immediate deployment of those interventions while seeking support of the government in ensuring sustainability.

The conference applauded the continued effort of the Presidential-level ‘Ease of Doing Business’ reform efforts of government which has resulted in Nigeria moving up a total of 39 places (since 2017) on the World Bank’s 2020 Report. The conference however called for greater focus on financing of the pharmaceutical value chain, and continued consultation with the PSN and other stakeholders on Nigerian health policies.

The conference conveyed her deep sense of appreciation to President, Muhammadu Buhari, for his prompt action in constituting and receiving the report of the Presidential Committee for the Eradication of Drug Abuse, chaired by retired Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa. The committee had representation from PSN and other stakeholders.

The conference called on the President to immediately look into the recommendations of the committee with a view to implementing the recommendations, as delay will spell doom for the 14 million Nigerians reportedly abusing drugs. The conference pledged her support to work with the President and all Nigerians with the aim of stemming the epidemic of drug abuse.

It applauded the effort of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and partners in promoting licit use of medicinal opioids through the institution of best practices in quantification, procurement, distribution, handling and monitoring of medicinal opioid; and these processes have contributed to assuring the maintenance of high standards in the distribution chain for medicinal opioids.

The conference noted with deep concern the difficulty faced by patients who legitimately require medicinal opioids on access and called on NAFDAC to work with partners to ensure that quantification is matched with appropriate funding and supply.

The conference congratulated the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) on the reports of its national enforcement activities, led by a national task force. She however opined that a more sustainable method of enforcement would be to strengthen regional and state regulatory offices. According to the communiqué, in the same vein, the Annual General Meeting (AGM) considered the request of the Registrar for an increment in the registration fee payable to enable the Council strengthen sub-national regulatory offices.

The conference noted that the AGM approved the 50 per cent increment recommended by the National Executive Committee (NEC) and Council with the understanding that this will lead to improvement in the Council’s regulatory function.

The AGM also adopted a motion mandating the Council to release guidelines for the regulation of online channels for the procurement of medicines and pharmaceutical services. This conference said it has become necessary due to the increasing importance of online platforms for improved access to pharmaceutical care, and need to curtail the current chaotic and spurious channels through which charlatans are selling falsified and adulterated medicines to the unsuspecting public.

The conference lamented the slow pace of the implementation of the National Drug Distribution Guideline (as amended) and unanimously called for swift intervention of the President Buhari, as the matters are inter-ministerial and require a high-level intervention to ensure swift resolution.

The conference also noted that within the same ambits, the Prescription Policy proposed by the PSN to the Federal Ministry of Health aimed at institutionalising Antibiotic Stewardship by limiting consumer access to only rational utilisation and controlled distribution has not yet seen the light of day. The pharmacists therefore called upon the Minister of Health to urgently look into the Prescription Policy as proposed and constitute a stakeholder’s meeting to ensure ratification and implementation.

The conference charged the Association of Community Pharmacists (ACPN) to mobilise its members to immediately close the gap in the provision of veterinary pharmaceutical products and care as the courts have definitively decided the case in favour of the pharmacist being the only legal custodian of medicines; used in both human and animal species. The conference said this interpretation is important, as it will enable pharmacists work in concerted relationship with veterinary doctors to deliver on the SDG12 (assuring a sustainable consumption and production through professional services) and SDG3 (prevention of antimicrobial resistance through Antimicrobial Stewardship The conference also appreciated the effort of the Council in defending the integrity of the Pharmacists Council Act, noting that further incursions for pecuniary purposes must be attended to with the same tenacity.

The conference also urged the Council to immediately begin the provision of update trainings in areas gaps exist in the pharmacists’ practice to ensure that access to veterinary pharmaceuticals and services are not encumbered; and to ensure the sub-national regulatory offices are also charged with enforcing this provision of the law.

The conference noted with delight the current advances in the research findings from Centre of Excellence in Research in Nigerian Universities, especially from the African Centre of Excellence in Phytomedicine Research and Development under the Directorship of renowned pharmacist, Prof. John Aguiyi, funded by a World Bank grant. The conference admonished other research centres to emulate the drive to improve contribution of Natural Medicines of Nigerian-extraction to the global market and said the translations of the findings to product development and practice improvement will be driven by regulatory approvals.