By Henry Uche
The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has rolled out some agenda for the acting Director General of National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in a bid to create a harmonious relationship between the Agency and its stakeholders for the interest of Nigerians.
In a statement signed by the president of PSN, Pharm. Cyril O. Usifoh, who felicitated with the new DG during a courtesy visit to her, said there was need to redress the challenges associated with the disposal of expired drugs as well as developing sustainable framework for handling of service and orphan drugs.
According to him, there was also need for proper classification of the registered drugs in line with new realities, as well as efforts needed to activate the federal and state task forces in partnership with PCN to cleanse the drug distribution channels.
PSN president maintained that all hands must be on deck to strengthen the National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG) in National interest, but most especially efforts must be geared towards debunking the unfortunate notion that NAFDAC has become a fund generating agency.
“On redressing challenges associated with the disposal of expired drugs, in the last few months, there has been a silent but raging war on the disposal of expired drugs and unwholesome food substances because of directives that those in possession of such should pay fees to NAFDAC for disposal of such.
“We viewed this development as one that will catalyze the recycling of expired drugs for use in the health system if not well managed now. The stakeholder who has expired consignment loses money and it is unthinkable to expect such person to submit to a system where he loses more due to payment of tariffs to government. It is in this light we call on the management of NAFDAC to have a rethink on this subject matter moving forward.”
Usifoh stressed that to develop a sustainable framework for handling of service and orphan drugs, he said, “In 2014, the R & R which was led by the acting DG in the Paul Orhii dispensation worked out an acceptable fee regimen as well as other administrative procedures to handle orphan and service drugs. The PSN documented this in its landmarks because it eased accessibility to life saving drugs. In recent times the gains in 2014 have been completely disrupted and we strongly solicit a redress of these measures in public interest.”
The pharmacist affirmed that for proper classification of the registered drugs in line with new realities, he recalled that as far back as the Dora Akunyili days at NAFDAC, there were firm resolves to delineate drugs into cadres including: Over the counter, pharmacist initiated medicines, and prescription only medicines, saying that those classifications have become more expedient in view of recent advances in other climes where pharmacists are approved to carryout limited prescription of medicines.
“In Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Health on the prompting of some foreign donor agencies now canvasses the sales of antibiotics like amoxil in patent medicine shops to treat pneumonia. Technically we are saying PPMVL holders can sell antibiotics without prescriptions, but we hamstring registered pharmacies and other facilities. It is therefore appropriate to deal with this situation once and for all to ensure professionalism in our endeavours.”
In a bid to see sanity restored in the sector, he sued for a conscientious effort to activate the federal and state tasks forces in partnership with PSN to cleanse the drug distribution channels in the country.
“The unwieldy nature of our drug distribution channel appears to be escalating by the day. The fake drug act was first enacted as decree 21 of 1988. Almost 35 years after it is a messier state of affairs in our drug distribution channels. The PSN was part of proceedings at NASS a few weeks ago when attempts were made to amend the existing fake drug act.
“We are convinced that the militating bane has always been a deliberate resolve of the PCN and NAFDAC not to work together to break this logjam. In this dispensation, I believe we have a unique opportunity because both the acting DG NAFDAC and the registrar/CEO of PCN share our burdens directly. The PSN vouches to facilitate a table to cement new ideas and fresh strategies to get us out of the bottomless pit in this regard with a firm commitment from you.
“We also push for strengthening the national drug distribution guidelines (NDDG) in national interest. We want to state that the NDDG is still a wild goose chase. We must allow the CWC concept work as canvassed in our policy statements.
“A past president, Olumide Akintayo put on record the historical discourse of a meeting he presided over held in 2015 with former DG NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii and Titi Owolabi representing NAFDAC and others. It was heartwarming that all stakeholders resolved to push the NDDG goals through. Seven years on, the NDDG is stalled and the resultant impasse puts our profession in disrepute and tatters.
“The only people who can salvage this situation from a regulatory perspective is yourself and PCN Registrar. IPSN shall continue its ceaseless advocacy in this regards and I assure you I will not shirk in that responsibility.
“We must debunk the unfortunate notion that NAFDAC has become a fund generating agency. At different fora, NAFDAC has come to gradually epitomize a fund raising image. It is good to transparent and solvent which we see with NAFDAC operations, but NAFDAC needs to have a more cursory look at the fees imposed on the wide range of regulatory products and services. We need to promote better stakeholder engagement to make sure we secure the buy-in of all crucial segments who rely on NAFDAC in one way or the other,” he asseverated.