Professor Atahiru Jega, former chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), has urged the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria (PCN), Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (NAP) and other key players to check counterfeiting and how ”˜prescription’ drugs were being sold over the counter. He is of the opinion that people, especially youths, buy drugs over-the-counter; which is not proper.
Jega was recently conferred with the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (NAP) Lifetime Achievement Award at the Investiture/Award Dinner of NAP in Lagos. He affirmed that the practice was destroying Nigerians, especially the youths because the drugs are addictive.
According to him; “Any youth can just walk into any patent medicine store or pharmacy to buy as many bottles of these drugs as they wish without restraint.”
“Many youths as a result of easy access are now addicted to the drugs”, he added.
He reiterated: “This has consequences as it has created many problems in many parts of the country, especially where I come from.
“So, I believe having been given the award that has given me the opportunity to urge leading Nigerian pharmacists to begin to pay attention to ethical issues associated with selling prescription drugs over-the-counter because the damage this is doing to our youths, really, is going to be phenomenon. It needs to be addressed appropriately.”
“I hope my suggestions will find receptive ideas. But, it is not just the pharmacists alone, the society needs to start addressing this issue by regulation,” he said.
He urged the country to take a cue from other countries that have a functional policy to guard against purchase of prescription drugs over-the-counter.
“In every country, walk across the borders, they are very serious about what is sold as prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs.In our country, regrettably, we are very complacent on this process. And that is why as my contribution I have drawn attention to this phenomenon and the need to urgently do something to tackle it,” Jega added.
According to him, it was shameful that most Nigerians travel abroad for ailments that could easily be treated in the country.
In his concluding remarks, Jega charged pharmacists; “We can achieve these if we all join hands.”