ACPN Asks Buhari to Implement National Drug Distribution Guideline
The Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) has called on the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, who would be sworn in tomorrow as the country’s President to implement the National Drug Distribution Guideline (NDDG) which has been set up by the Federal Government since 2013.
The call was made by the National Chairman of ACPN, Mr. Olufemi Adebayo, who stressed that drugs were still being sold in the open market as a result of lack of implementation of the already drafted guidelines which the current government has put on hold for unknown reasons.
According to him the NDDG was a perfect document by the federal government, launched in February, 2013 to solve the chaotic drug distribution pattern in the country which was hampering drug affordability and accessibility among Nigerians. Adebayo said that after the guideline was drafted by the government, it was agreed that the implementation would start within months, but that the government postponed it to 2014 and again shifted it to June this year.
Adebayo, who said he was surprised that government could play politics with something as vital as that by delaying its implementation, explained that he believed the government delayed the implementation because of the just-concluded general elections.
He wondered why government was delaying the implementation of a guideline it put on ground itself just because they were scared of stepping on toes of people in the industry who had made drugs expensive and uneasy to get in the country.
“We are all aware that the distribution of medicines is on the exclusive list of the government and the implementation of the document also lies on the Presidency, not on any of the agencies of the government. It has the exclusive power to call on all stakeholders and taskforce to ensure that the implementation is enforced to the letter, but what we got was shifting of the implementation dates.
“Government must move beyond pleasing some few people at the detriment of Nigerians. Now that the implementation has again been shifted to June 1st, which coincides with the coming of Buhari into the office, we are calling on him to hit the ground running and not delay further the implementation of the NDDG, as this would in turn ensure proper channeling of drugs from the manufacturers up to the consumers in a very professional way, as well as improve the health of the people,” he said.
He decried the sales of drugs in the country by unprofessionals, stressing that it was unfortunate that drug hawkers were still conducting their trade in the country, though it remained a criminal offence to hawk drugs.
“Even if these hawked drugs are genuine drugs, the heat of the sun and the way they are exposed would make them loose their potency. So it should be discouraged and offenders should be made to face the law,” he said.
He called on the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the various enforcement agencies to arrest and punish offenders.
He also explained that same treatment be meted out to unauthorised persons who operate pharmacies. “Pharmacies should be operated by professionals. The current law set up for retail pharmacy is that you must be a pharmacist to be a retailer, because a level of professional service is required at that level since they interact directly with the consumers,” he added.
On the concept of Chain Pharmacy, Adebayo, said it was no more news that foreign investors were planning to come to Nigeria to invest in retail aspect of the pharmaceutical sector but that such investors must work with the terms and provision of the existing laws guiding community pharmacy practise in the country.
“We are also imploring the federal government to develop a policy that will make funding available to community pharmacists at a single digit interest rate in order to make drug affordable to its citizens,” he said.