Pharmacists in the country under the aegis of Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria(ACPN), have raised the alarm over what they described as high level of drug abuse in the country which they say was responsible for the increase in liver and kidney diseases affecting many Nigerians nowadays. Hence, they want the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), and the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria ( PCN) , to urgently overhaul the drug distribution system through proper drug regulation as the high level of drug abuse in Nigeria was no longer acceptable.
The pharmacists made the call during a road show organised in Lagos by ACPN to sensitize members of the public on the dangers of buying drugs from commercial bus hawkers and open drug markets – all illegal stores in the drug distribution chain. The road show was also part of efforts to promote pharmacists as health care professionals.
Speaking at the event, Chairman, ACPN Lagos Branch, Pharm. Biola Paul-Ozieh noted: “Those of us in the community practice see a lot of things. We see people abuse drugs like codeine products. Anything with codeine, people want to use it because they use it to get high. We also see a very high rate of abuse of the drug called Tramodol. This is supposed to be a prescription-only medicine, but what we find today shows a high level of irrational use of medicines.
“Peddlers hawk these drugs in garages; also, people come to the pharmacy demanding for it when no doctor had not prescribed it”, she said.
According to her, open drug market is an aberration based on existing laws guiding the sale of medicines in Nigeria. “When we begin to consider some of the chronic conditions that many Nigerians are coming down with today, like liver disease and kidney failure, you know that they may have abused drugs in time past. This does not augur well with our country.
“Therefore, we are calling on the Federal Government to do the needful. Regulatory agencies need to rise to their responsibilities and sanitise the chaotic drug distribution channel.”
On how to know original pharmacy, she said the public could decipher duly certified pharmacies by citing the registered pharmacy sign (a green cross, with Pharmacists Society of Nigeria registration number), coupled with the presence of a pharmacist-in-residence.
Corroborating her views, former chairman of the association, Abdusalam Aminu, noted that the country was faced with problem of drug abuse and misuse and added that when drugs are abused or misused, the end of it is usually bad.
“If you abuse antibiotics in treating an ailment,” she said further, “It will allow the organisms causing the ailment to develop resistance; therefore, when used subsequently, the antibiotics will not be effective. Now, we have seen a lot of abuse on codeine preparations.”