Pharmacists warn of drug scarcity, rise in deaths
•Urge Buhari to intervene to prevent national calamity
If nothing was done urgently, the country is bound to witness acute drug shortage and scarcity that would result to rise in morbidity and mortality of Nigerians.
Pharmacists under the aegis of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) in a communiqué released after its National Council meeting in Kano noted: “Council after a careful evaluation of the impact of the current paucity of Forex in the country which is gradually grinding operations in drug manufacturing and importation outlets to a halt in the days ahead, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, to urgently intervene to prevent an impending national calamity which will lead to morbidity and outright mortality of consumers of health in Nigeria.”
The National President, Ahmed I. Yakasai and the National Secretary, Gbolagade Iyiola, jointly signed the communiqué.
The pharmacists after a painstaking and critical appraisal of the various topical issues affecting pharmacy practice, health matters and other sundry issues, also reasoned that empty warehouses of a plethora of the pharmaceutical companies due to inaccessibility to Forex to directly source finished products, active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and other excipients will naturally breed out of stock syndrome in the inventory of life saving drugs with obvious consequences in the days and weeks ahead, as most companies will exhaust the leftover stocks from last year .
The Council further posited that it was impossible to transact pharmaceutical inclined business at the rate of $1 to N400 as the drug products from such transactions will be completely unaffordable thus defeating the goal of the National Drug Policy which advocates the availability of safe, efficacious and affordable drugs in the health system at all times.
The communiqué further explained: “Flowing from the above, council called on the Federal Government to facilitate better access to Forex to pharmaceutical companies as a matter of priority in view of the security dimensions of the out of stock syndrome which has a propensity to boost the fake drug syndrome as charlatans will certainly exploit the vacuum created by a lack of basic drugs.”
The Council called on the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) to continue to work with pharmaceutical stakeholders who resolved jointly in 2015 to actualize State Drug Distribution Centres (SDDCs), Mega Drug Distribution Centres (MDDCs), Registered Wholesalers and newly introduced Coordinated Wholesale Centres (CWCs) as the main legs of drug wholesaling in Nigeria.
The pharmacists commended the operators in drug markets in Idumota, Lagos, Ariaria in Aba, Abia State, Sabongeri in Kano and recently in Onitsha, Anambra State who are already actualizing and perfecting the CWC structures in those States.
Council insisted that at the expiration of the deadline for movements out of the open market in August 2017, there must be no going back, as all open markets must be closed in tune with existing laws.
Council counseled in its bid to stem the tide of fake drug sales and circulation, the new drug distribution channel approved by pharmaceutical stakeholders, FMoH, Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN) and National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) must be upheld and made to work maximally in public interest.
The Council reminded the federal government on the urgent need to reconstitute the PCN by appointing its Chairman and other statutory members albeit lawfully to enable the PCN carry out its full statutory mandate including accreditation of training facilities for pharmacists and support personnel in pharmacies, disciplinary procedures which compels the Chairman of PCN to be Chairman of Disciplinary Tribunal as well as regularizing all necessary protocols in the inspectorate activities of the PCN.
In similar spirit council called on the Presidency to appoint registered pharmacists as Heads/Chief Executives Officers (CEOs) of requisite regulatory agencies involved in drug distribution for its change mantra to add benefit packages to the citizenry in Nigeria.
The Council invited healthcare providers and workers, consumers of health and other stakeholders to its 89th Annual National Conference, which will hold from Monday November 7 to Friday November 11, 2016 in Minna, Niger State.
The Council further informed that the opening ceremony of the Annual National Conference would feature Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as Special Guest of Honour, while the various plenary sessions, which follow the opening ceremony, will revolve around the theme of the conference “Pharmaceutical Industry Contributions to National Development”.