•Says It Will Worsen Existing Chaotic Drug Distribution Network
•Tells Buhari To Improve Health Sector Rating By Appointing Experienced Administrators
Pharmacists under the auspices of Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) has picked holes in the proposal of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) to create three-tiers of eligible players in the sales of OTC drugs under the wide classification of Patent & Proprietary Medicine Vendors Licence (PPMVL) in Nigeria.
Speaking for ACPN, Samuel Adekola, the National Chairman, said the proposal had been subjected to a lot of critical appraisal in the last few days that it was made public through a Punch on-line projection and that the entropy the move of the FMOH has generated compels the ACPN as the primary constituency that continues to bear the burden of an unwieldy drug distribution channel to make some clarifications.
Adekola explained that the concept of PPMVL was originally structured to be a stop-gap mechanism to make drugs available in locations where there existed palpable shortage of professional services in the Pharmaceutical Sector.
This, Adekola said, was commonplace in the rural areas and even some state capitals in Northern Nigeria which appeared underserved even in contemporary times, adding that in the early days, the PPMVLs were made to relocate once there was confirmation of pharmaceutical presence through registered Pharmacies.
Adekola told DAILY INDEPENDENT that the ACPN was aware of efforts by Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) to review the activities of PPMVL holders to make them more effective and to comply with the extant law that established them.
“This to our best knowledge is still an ongoing discussion; hence we do not understand the haste by the FMOH to announce the tier classification of PPMVL holders and came out to declare that Patent Medicine Dealers has come to stay,” he stated.
The National Chairman ACPN added, “We find it extremely important to caution on the larger implications of the unnecessary stratification which opens a supposed tier-2 of PPMVL holders which will be made up of health professionals.
“One wonders why FMOH and its appendages would formulate a policy that opens the health system to another round of avoidable entropy if the global norm, which is grounded on international best practices rightly presumes that pharmacists are experts in drug and therefore must superintend the sales, use and dispensing of drugs through licensure.”
Similarly, a statement jointly signed by Adekola and Bose Idowu, National Secretary, queried the rationale of the FMOH for attempting to mutilate the lawful configuration.
Idowu said that in one breath, the FMOH and its parastatals are perceived as the major proponents of the Pharmacy Council Bill which already addresses the fundamental issue of accessibility to affordable, safe and efficacious drugs through the concept of Satellite Pharmacies.
She said, “This same bill is clear that Pharmacy Technicians, a globally recognised cadre in the pharmaceutical value chain, will legally through statutes subsequently drive Patent Medicine Vending in Nigeria because this cadre is trained in the handling of OTC drugs in facilities accredited by the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN).
“Why then do we need this most unfortunate distraction orchestrated by the FMOH? The membership of the ACPN is certainly not comfortable with the motive that drove this tier classification of OTC drugs because it is a potential instrument to further worsen the chaotic drug distribution network in our country.”
Idowu contended that in the emerging scenario, it was very apparent that the tier-classification of OTC drug by varying service providers is self-serving and actually a loophole by the FMOH to probably legitimise custody of drugs by a favoured profession which has always carried out this endeavour unlawfully in their private hospitals.
“It is a statement of fact that regulators have never monitored or controlled drug stocks in private hospital facilities in Nigeria. This new tier-classification will only provide a legal template to short-circuit existing or proposed Pharmacy Statutes in the totality of regulation, enforcement, monitoring and control because all a private hospital needs to do to lawfully stock medicine is to annex a Patent Medicine shop to the hospital facility.
“In a country where it has always been impossible to regulate the activities of those who indulge in drug sales and dispensing, it is only a matter of common-sense that what the FMOH is undertaking if this proposal is allowed to be implemented is the final burial ceremony of Pharmacy practice in Nigeria,” she stated.
The ACPN National Secretary then called on the management of the FMOH to immediately convoke a full consultation of the critical stakeholders in the pharmaceutical sector which include PSN, ACPN, PCN, NAFDAC and the department of Food and Drug Services of the FMOH to deliberate on the urgent matter arising with a view to charting a credible path moving forward.
“It remains a major irony that every turn when we should be making progress, policy shifts and somersaults have been embraced by the leadership of the FMOH to deny us progress.
“We at ACPN have also resolved to handle this matter, which revolves around our future and destiny with all the smartness and seriousness it deserves.
“The ACPN wishes to call on the Buhari Administration to carefully evaluate the antecedents of persons who can steer the ship of the health sector successfully against the background of our failed health system which continues to receive extremely poor ratings because we have always anchored our healthcare administration on peculiar indigenous mode (Nigerian style of Health administration) despite the reality that it is a global phenomenon which needs to be conducted as a universal affair,” she said.
The ACPN therefore cautioned that the next set of Health Ministers must be structured to be “fit and proper, adding that it is expedient they should be experienced administrators or managers of cognate exposure to promote team-spirit that would allow all stakeholders to bring their expertise to bear in public interest as it is an established fact that healthcare delivery is a multi-disciplinary task.
“For the sake of posterity, we shall seek approval from necessary quarters to seek a legal redress of this proposal on tier-classification as canvassed by the outgoing Adewole-led Administration at the FMOH if our admonitions and appeals for dialogue are not taken seriously in the days ahead,” the ACPN said.