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 over-the-counter (OTC) drugs under the wide classification of Patent & Proprietary Medicine Vendors Licence (PPMVL) in Nigeria.
This is contained in a statement jointly signed by the National Chairman of the ACPN, Samuel Adekola and Bose Idowu, national secretary of the association, both of whom queried the rationale of the FMOH for attempting to mutilate the lawful configuration.
Raising the concern, Adekola, said 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.
According to him, the PPMVL 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, they were made to relocate once there was confirmation of pharmaceutical presence through registered pharmacies.
Adekola said 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 of the 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.”
Bose Idowu, the ACPN National Secretary, 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.
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