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Substandard Drugs: Nigeria has over 2m Unregistered Pharmaceutical Outlets – PSN

According to the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), over two million unregistered pharmaceutical premises are presently operating in the country.

The body lamented that the country is becoming a fertile ground for fake and substandard drug production due to the large number of such locations where medicinal drugs are dispensed and sold.

This alarm was raised by the PSN President, Professor Cyril Usifoh, who called for stricter measures to be adopted and enforcement of pharmaceutical regulations, stressing that unregistered premises pose a serious threat to public health, as they may not meet safety and quality standards.

“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. Many of these unregistered premises are operating illegally, without any regulatory oversight or adherence to safety and quality standards.

Speaking at a press conference held in Lagos on Saturday, in commemoration of the forthcoming 96th Annual National Conference of the society tagged ‘Jewel City 2023, meant to take place in Gombe State from October 30 to November 4, he expressed displeasure that the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, which is the regulating authority empowered to curtail the excesses and abuses of some unregistered pharmaceutical premises, lacks a substantive registrar.

The PSN president insisted that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration needed prompt guidance from the nation’s chief legal officer to help navigate the challenges facing the pharmaceutical sector.

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He stressed that the president must address the PCN’s financing shortfall and appoint a substantive registrar to close the regulatory deficiencies in the industry.

According to him, “We can’t as a nation have a consuming evil of monstrosity, which the National Assembly has also identified, and you walk away as a government because some financial technocrats think they want to save money.  It amounts to a comprehensive abdication of responsibility by an otherwise responsible government to contemplate this with PCN, which is both a peculiar and unique professional regulatory Council.

“Poor funding and the status quo of the Federal Government involvement have compelled Nigerians to live with physicians dispensing drugs in private hospitals, a thriving drug abuse and misuse culture, which is seriously consuming Nigerians, especially youths and even women.

“From the purview of existing laws, the Federal Government is compelled in Section 9 (1) of the PCN Act 2022 to provide budgetary and extra-budgetary allocations to the PCN.

“It will, therefore, be unlawful and illegal for the Budget Office to stop allocations to the PCN in the public interest.”

Usifoh, further lamented that Nigeria has lost over 6,000 pharmacists to brain drain in the last six years while more are preparing to leave.

He said, “We acknowledge that a few steps like the new salary structure and consultancy cadre, together with the PCN Act are welcome but much more is needed to significantly reverse the trend.”