Pharmacists under the auspices of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) have raised the alarm over the safety of Nigerians due to inappropriate drug prescription and dispensing practices in the country.
In a letter written to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the ACPN drew his attention to unwholesome practices including the violation of relevant laws on prescription and dispensing of drugs by private hospitals which puts Nigerian health consumers at risk.
The letter which was signed by the national chairman of ACPN, Adewale Oladigbolu, noted that the sale, prescription and dispensing of drugs in Nigeria is “ravaged by a departure from global norm in many respects.’’ ACPN accused private hospitals in the country of promoting quackery in the health sector through abuse of privileges of the medical profession.
“Private hospitals contribute a great deal to quackery in the health sector because these facilities ‘train’ Auxiliary Nurses, Pharmacy and Laboratory attendants, as well as a plethora of other quack sub-health personnel. This periodic cyclical discharge of undesirable elements continues to constitute a hindrance and stumbling block towards responsible healthcare delivery. Even when pharmacy laws and regulations, as well as the National Drug Policy, are clear about the latitudes of influence in dispensing and prescribing,’’ it said.
‘’We are all familiar with the realities on the field where World Health Organization (WHO) studies have confirmed that private hospital facilities enjoy extreme pecuniary indulgences in the sales and dispensing of drugs. The referred study declares that the prices of drugs in private hospitals is 184% above baseline prices in public hospital pharmacies and 192% above what is obtainable in private community pharmacies,’’ it added.
According to ACPN, the huge profits private hospital owners make on drugs is a major incentive to violate pharmacy and drug laws. “When this is juxtaposed and aligned with operational methodologies of drug regulators like Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), NAFDAC and the various task forces at state and federal level which do not regulate or control drug use endeavours in hospital, in both the public and private sector, but constantly monitor registered pharmacies, you begin to understand why all classes of drugs are sold and dispensed at prohibitive costs in the unregistered pharmacy facilities in hospitals by untrained hands especially in the private sector.”
The ACPN accused Nigerian doctors of being guilty in the phenomenon-styled dispensing in both the public and private sectors. It noted that, “Although, medical and dental practitioners are not trained to dispense drugs, and therefore, they are part of the problems of drug abuse and misuse as well as the inherent complications of this unwholesome development.
‘’It is also very fundamental to indicate that private doctors, in furtherance to their agenda to boost quackery stock and dispense drugs in unlawful facilities contrary to the provisions of Cap PCN 2022 and the Fake Drug Act, which prohibits the sales and dispensing of drugs in unregistered pharmacy facilities.”
They claimed that the ‘’usually widely publicized activities of state regulatory authorities for the private hospital have never indicted any of these hospitals for violating relevant drug laws, even when over 99.5% of private doctors are guilty of this odious crime against the citizenry.’’
“In Nigeria today, there are only about 6,000 registered pharmacy facilities in the various cadres of practice, including retailers, wholesale, importation and manufacturing. Of this number, less than 4,000 are retailers who provide services directly to the consuming public,” it stated.
Continuing, ACPN said, “While there are less than 4,000 registered retail pharmacies; there exist over a million different drug sellers who are unregistered. It is this plethora of illegal drug sellers who are largely unregulated that perpetrate most of the obnoxious and dirty practices in drug distribution in Nigeria,” it added.