By Olufemi Adediran, Abeokuta
A total of 373 illegal pharmacies and patent medicine stores have been sealed by the Inspection and Monitoring Unit of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) in Ogun State.
The National Director of the Unit, Mrs. Anthonia Aruya who made the disclosure yesterday at a Press Conference in Abeokuta, the State capital revealed that the illegal pharmacies and patent stores were sealed within a week of an enforcement exercise carried out by the unit.
She added that the exercise became necessary in order to protect members of the public from the dangers of buying fake drugs, saying “The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria cannot guarantee that drugs sold in unregistered outlets are of the same integrity as specified by the manufacturers since they have not submitted to regulation that ensures maintenance of minimum standards for handling such products.”
Aruya declared that the fight against illegal operation of pharmacies and patent stores in the country, “is a running battle, which requires collective efforts of all stakeholders in the overall safety of the country health sector.
According to her, a total of 435 premises, comprising 44 pharmacies and 391 patent medicine shops were visited in the course of the exercise, disclosing that 373 premises made up of 15 and 358 patent medicine stores were sealed for various offences.
Aruya stated that the patent medicine stores were sealed for various offences such as “operating without registration with Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, failure to renew premises license, dispensing ethical products without supervision of the supervision of a pharmacist, poor sanitary conditions among others.”
The enforcement unit, she explained visited various parts of the State, including Sango,Ota, Lafenwa,Itele, Mowe, Ibafo, Arepo, Berger, Ifo, Ilaro, Alagbole, Akute, Pansheke, Nawairudeen, Ijaiye, Oke Ejigbo, Isale Ake and Itoku areas of Abeokuta.
Others areas visited were, Iporo, Adatan, Car wash, Oke Aregba, Kugba, Saje, Ilugun, Isale Igbehin, Onikolobo, Gbonagun, Oluwo, Mango,Adigbe, Opako, Alowonle, Oke Ata, Totoro, Kuto, Adedotun, Rander, Olomore, Odo Oyo, Elega, Bode Olude, Idi Aba, Eleweran, Olokuta, elite, Lantoro, Odo Eran,Camp, Osiele, Odeda,Ifo, Owode Egba, Ofada and Ajuwon.
According to her, “The Council has been actively fulfilling its mandate by carrying out enforcement activities across States including, Lagos (2), Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Ebonyi, Kwara, Benue, Delta, Oyo, Ekiti, Osun, Abuja, Nassarawa, Kaduna, Taraba and Cross River”.
“What we observed in Ogun State is that so many premises commenced operations without fulfilling minimum requirements for registration while others failed to renew their license to operate such shops. Some of these premises store products in environments where the quality, safety and efficacy of pharmaceutical products cannot be guaranteed”.
“This exposes the public to serious danger. Others do not have the requisite knowledge or knowhow to handle the highly ethical drugs in their facilities. This exercise is part of efforts by the PCN to reverse this ugly trend and improve on the level of Pharmaceutical services delivery to the good people of Ogun State”.
“One of the core mandates of the PCN is ensuring rational distribution and dispensing of medicines that are safe, effective and of good quality to the public. Before a pharmaceutical facility commences operation it must fulfill certain conditions in line with the PCN guidelines”.
“First the facility is expected to apply for location approval. This is because not every location is suitable for Pharmaceutical business. When the location is approved the premises will put the necessary structure in place for facility inspection”
“The facility inspection is carried out to ensure that the right storage environmentis maintained to preserve the pharmacological and pharmacokinetic integrity of the medicines. Also Pharmacies are expected to have pharmacists to supervise the dispensing of ethical products to members of the public”.
“The National Assembly gave the PCN a marching order to close down all illegal premises nationwide. This has given us added impetus to intensify efforts at sanitizing the drug distribution chain”.
She however disclosed that owners of unregistered facilities have been visiting the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, Ogun State office to regularize their registration status since the commencement of the exercise, saying “The PCN is making every effort to promptly attend to them and ensure that their facilities meet minimum requirements in line with laid down guidelines”.
The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) is the Federal Government Parastatal charged with the responsibility of regulating and controlling the education, training and practice of pharmacy in all its aspects and ramifications as established by Decree 91 of 1992 now Pharmacists Council of Nigeria Act Cap P17, LFN, 2004.