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Nigeria can’t produce COVID-19 vaccines without pharmacy law, says PSN

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President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa


Pharmacists flay NAFDAC for demanding money to destroy expired drugs

The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has raised concern that Nigeria may not be able to produce COVID-19 vaccines and others unless the National Assembly and President Muhammadu Buhari sign the Pharmacy Bill into law.

Speaking at a media briefing on roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine, yesterday, in Lagos, the PSN insisted that the vaccines were safe and should be accepted in Nigeria, even as the group urged caution on the use of Ivermectin for treatment of the pandemic.

They said Ghana received COVID-19 vaccines under the COVAX facility before Nigeria due to poor appropriation in national budget for health, weak logistics and inadequate infrastructure.

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President of PSN, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, said: “Without the passage of the Pharmacy Bill, the World Health Organisation (WHO) will not to grant Nigeria the right to produce vaccines locally. As soon as the Pharmacy Bill is passed into law, the country make proposal and start producing vaccines locally in 15 months.

“The National Assembly passed the Pharmacy Bill during President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term, but it was not signed it into law, meaning that we have to start all over again. We have represented it to the National Assembly for passage.”
On the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, Ohuabunwa, who was represented by the National Publicity Secretary of PSN, Ijeoma Okey-Ewurum, said the country should be proud that some Nigerians were involved in the development of the vaccines for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We can say that given the scientific evidence, our professional competencies in the science and technology of vaccines formulation protocol and our responsibility to nest medication safety of Nigerians, we can confirm that the vaccines are safe and should be accepted when they become available to us,” she said.

On how best to deploy the COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria, the PSN President said: “Vaccination should be seen as a public health good to be delivered to all parts of the country.”

To effectively address the issues, the PSN recommended that the funding gap in vaccine capacity building in Nigeria, should be filled by releasing funds to some universities and research institutes, stressing: “Increased budgetary allocation to health is strongly recommended.”
MEANWHILE, pharmacists have condemned the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for demanding money before destroying expired drugs despite the huge losses they incur in purchasing the products.

They described the development as ‘absurd’, stating that it was against global best practice as obtainable in the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa and Ghana where those who submit expired products are compensated and encouraged to continue doing so for the safety of society.

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Speaking at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Lagos Chapter, yesterday, immediate past Chairman, Obideyi Benedict, described the development as “double jeopardy,” as pharmacists in Nigeria were made to pay before destroying their expired products.

“We paid for collection and destruction of expired drugs and other pharmaceutical wastes. I had to talk to NAFDAC officials because we were asked to pay N80, 000 per truck and we had two trucks. They eventually collected money for one after some level of intervention,” he lamented.

Also speaking, Chairman, Lagos State wing of PSN, Gbolagade Iyiola, said while the pharmacists incur loss of funds invested into their business, despite being charged for registration of drugs, NAFDAC usually insist on collecting money before destroying expired pharmaceutical wastes.

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