Lagos, Nigeria – The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has issued a stark warning about the alarming proliferation of unregistered pharmaceutical premises in the country. With over two million such outlets operating unchecked, the PSN has raised concerns about the growing threat to public health, as these unregulated venues often dispense potentially dangerous fake and substandard drugs.
In a press conference held in Lagos on Saturday, Professor Cyril Usifoh, the President of the PSN, expressed deep concern over the state of affairs and called for immediate action to address this pressing issue. He emphasized the urgent need for stricter enforcement of pharmaceutical regulations and measures to curb the unchecked growth of unregistered pharmaceutical outlets.
“The PSN estimates that there are over 25,000 registered pharmacies and patent medicine shops in Nigeria, but this number pales in comparison to the estimated 2 million unregistered premises,” said Professor Usifoh. He further explained that many of these unregistered premises are operating illegally without any regulatory oversight or adherence to safety and quality standards, posing a significant risk to public health.
One key issue highlighted by the PSN is the lack of a substantive registrar at the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN), the regulatory authority responsible for overseeing pharmaceutical premises. This absence of leadership at the regulatory level has exacerbated the problem, leaving unregistered establishments unchecked.
Professor Usifoh called upon the government, specifically President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration, to take prompt action to navigate the challenges facing the pharmaceutical sector. He stressed the need for the president to address the PCN’s financing shortfall and appoint a substantive registrar to close the regulatory deficiencies in the industry.
“We can’t, as a nation, have a consuming evil of monstrosity, and walk away as a government because some financial technocrats think they want to save money,” Professor Usifoh stated. He emphasized that poor funding and the status quo of the Federal Government’s involvement have led to situations where physicians are dispensing drugs in private hospitals, contributing to a thriving drug abuse and misuse culture that is seriously affecting Nigerians, especially the youth and women.
According to the PSN President, Nigeria has lost over 6,000 pharmacists to brain drain in the last six years, with more preparing to leave. While some steps have been taken to improve the situation, such as introducing a new salary structure and consultancy cadre, Professor Usifoh stressed that much more is needed to significantly reverse this trend and retain skilled professionals in the healthcare sector.
In summary, the PSN’s warning about the over two million unregistered pharmaceutical outlets in Nigeria raises critical concerns about the safety and quality of drugs being distributed in the country. Urgent action, including stricter regulatory measures and adequate funding for the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, is essential to address this pressing issue and ensure the well-being of the Nigerian population. Furthermore, the nation must take steps to retain its skilled pharmacists and combat the ongoing brain drain from the pharmaceutical sector.