By Henry Uche
Following the gazetted Online Pharmacy Regulation, the registrar, Pharmacists’ Council of Nigeria (PCN), Elijah Mohammed, has urged the council to do a thorough work regarding the regulations in order to safeguard the health of Nigerians.
Giving this charge in Lagos at a’ meeting on Online Pharmacy Regulations in Nigeria, Mohammed implored PCN to do everything to differentiate the genuine practitioners from the fake ones, as online pharmacy undoubtedly affects the fabric of the economy, depending on how it is managed.
He charged PCN to consult critical stakeholders, especially community pharmacists, and come up with a framework that would involve “checks and balances” to avoid any act that could endanger the health of Nigerians.
“All online pharmacy should be warehoused where PCN would have control over to enable them check bogus and unethical practices. PCN must demand that every medicine sold online must have evidence of ethical sourcing for authenticity,” he said.
He requested PCN to bring down unscrupulous online pharmaceutical practitioners before the implementation kick-off by 2022, noting that every certified online pharmacy should have a tele-pharmacy component, where a pharmacist would have a face-to-face conversation with a client/patient.
“PCN must do a meticulous job. We don’t need to risk the life of Nigerians. So, we need a robust system where more Nigerians can trust the process, have access to medicine, information and better health care. If we get it right, the better for us, but if we do it wrong, it won’t augur well, because medicines are not ordinary items of commerce, they can be used to cure illness as well as cause damage to the consumers,” he said.
He stressed that PCN expects all online pharmacy services to be of the same quality and standards as the ‘bricks and mortar’ pharmacy,” thus, patient’s safety must not be compromised.
“The PCN is ready to ensure compliance with the Online Pharmacy Regulations and is collaborating with the Nigeria Police Force, Interpol section to ensure all illegal online pharmaceutical sites are closed,” he added.
Speaking also, the national chairman, of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Adewale Oladigbolu, recommended that PCN should engage digital natives and practitioners to hand-hold them in the digital journey, else they would be creating a solution for a problem they don’t understand.
According to him, ACPN recommends that PCN aggressively goes after major online marketplaces in partnership with Interpol and NCC, noting that all medicine vendors on the platforms should be taken down unless they provide the PCN clearance.
“We recommend the active involvement of NDLEA, as it evident the narcotics are largely distributed using the online pharmacy platform. ACPN at the national level will coordinate an online surveillance mechanism that will feed the PCN with market intelligence information.”
He added that the superintendence of the brick-and-mortar store should suffice for the online channel of the store, while the current guidelines could be used for an online pharmacy that doesn’t have a brick and mortar component.
“Major online marketplaces such as Jumia, Konga and Jiji must be officially communicated to ensure that everyone selling medicines on their platforms must present a PCN clearance,” he charged.
On her part, the CEO, Advantage Health Africa, promoters of myMedicine, an aggregated online pharmacy in Nigeria, Abimbola Adebakin, said they do not want any draconian laws or heavy-handedness in implementation, but a platform to learn together.
“The gazette says that we (Online Pharmacy) cannot deal with prescription medication, why? Most of what we do is prescription medication. For instance, a man who has cancer is not looking for a supplement, but a prescription for to healed. If the medicine is not available in one part of the country but can be found in other parts, shall we not fulfill it?”
She decried the dearth of validating platform for prescription in the Pharmaceutical sub-sector which makes it difficult to identify qualified medicine prescribers before administrative drugs.
“We should not be treated like we’re Lower than physical Pharmacists, because we’re checking, we have Pharmacists on duty calling patients, beside every online Pharmacists is registered by a superintendent Pharmacists going forward. We don’t need laws that would negate the Practise.
Adebakin called for innovation, responsiveness and future- Proof within the sector, noting that the landscape was changing while the digital space is taking over and Nigeria could not afford to go move backward. She called on all online genuine Pharmaceutical Practitioners to come up for regulation.