The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) said it has sealed a total of 358 premises made up of 90 pharmacies and 268 patent medicine shops, within the past four days (Monday to Thursday) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The council said the premises were sealed for various offences including operating without registration with the PCN, failure to renew premises license, dispensing ethical products without the supervision of a pharmacist, poor storage and sanitary conditions among others.
The registrar, PCN, Pharm. Ibrahim Ahmed, who disclosed this at press briefing on Friday in Abuja, also said that four patent medicine vendors were arrested, adding that three of them were arrested for breaking PCN seals and one for displaying fake patent medicines vendor license in his shop.
He said; “At the end of the current enforcement exercise in the FCT, a total of 584 premises were visited. This comprises 185 pharmacies and three 399 patent medicine shops. A total of 358 premises made up of 90 pharmacies and 268 patent medicine shops were sealed for various offences.”
He expressed concern over the proliferation of unregistered medicine shops across the country, saying it has remained a major obstacle in the actualisation of the National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG).
“Many of these premises involved in sale of medicines to the public do not have appropriate storage facilities thereby exposing medicines to harsh environmental factors like high temperature and humidity. Some other medicines that are photosensitive are exposed to direct sunlight. These conditions cause degradation of medicines thus making many of them unsuitable for human consumption,” he said.
The registrar also identified the activities of open drug markets as another challenge in the effort of PCN to carry out its mandate in line with the NDDG, saying the medicine dealers in these markets are unregulated and the activities within the markets are totally in breach of regulations.
He said “A large percentage of products within these markets are not fit for human consumption due to poor handling. Since some of these products find their way into our health systems, the activities of these markets constitute a threat to public health.”
He, however, said that the Council has taken steps to address the challenges, adding that the office has stepped up enforcement activities across the country.
Speaking further, Ahmed said from 2018 till date, the national enforcement team has visited more than 30,000 pharmaceutical premises and sealed more than 20,000.
He added that efforts were ongoing to ensure that all medicine dealers in open drug markets in the country are relocated to Coordinated Wholesale Centres (CWCs) in line with the National Drug Distribution Guidelines.
“The PCN is currently partnering with the Government of states where these markets are located and all relevant stakeholders to ensure that this is achieved,” he said.
Ahmed advised Nigerians to purchase their medicines from licensed Pharmacies and simple household remedies from licensed patent and propriety medicines vendors shops while informing that the PCN licensed Pharmacies and patent medicine shops are expected to display their licenses or evidence of registration conspicuously within the premises.