The President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Sam Ohuabunwa, has called on the Presidency to sign the new Pharmacy Council of Nigeria Bill into law to strengthen action against illegal proprietors of patent medicine stores across the country.
Ohuabunwa spoke with our correspondent in response to the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Drug Abuse, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd)’s claim that only 58,000 patent medicine operators were registered with the Federal Government across the country.
Speaking during the presentation of the report of the first-ever national survey on drug use in Nigeria in Abuja, Marwa said that more than 1 million patent stores were operating illegally in the country.
He said, “The pharmaceutical industry comprising manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers must also be effectively regulated in the handling of sensitive drugs that are prone to abuse by youths.
“It will surprise you to learn that there are 58,000 registered properly licensed patent medicine stores across the country, but more than 1 million unlicensed stores are operating illegally. Government on its part will further strengthen relevant regulatory and enforcement agencies with adequate funding to enable and sustain an effective nationwide track down distribution system in order to severely restrict access to dangerous drugs.”
Ohuabunwa said that Marwa’s claim might be right, but he challenged the Presidency to demonstrate its genuine fight against drug abuse and illegal drug distribution by signing the bill into law.
He said, “Our members are pharmacists who run pharmaceutical stores. The truth is that whoever gave that figure may be right. Those (illegal patent medicine store owners) are the people who run against the law. That is what we are trying to deal with through the approval of the new Pharmacy Council Bill, which has been passed by the National Assembly but yet to be signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“If signed, it will strengthen the regulation of everyone involved in the drug business. Once we get the law, it will check illegal practice. The law is slack and enforcement is slow. It will also give PSN more power to bring illegal patent medicine dealers, who are causing trouble, into regulation. We appeal to the presidency to sign the law quickly.