The Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria, PCN, has sent a strong warning to unregistered online drug sellers.
The PCN said selling drugs online without registration will be regarded as a criminal offence.
Elijah Mohammed, the PCN registrar disclosed this in Lagos.
During a press briefing with newsmen and stakeholders, Elijah stressed that a lot of pharmaceutical practices had been going on with no regulations.
“It is very necessary to safe guide the health of Nigerians.
“Over the years, a lot of online pharmacy practice has been going on with no regulation.
“When there is no law, there is no crime. Now that the regulations have been put in place, it is going to be a criminal offence to do an online pharmacy practice without registering with the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria”
He noted that these regulations will be enforced from January 2022. Mohammed explained that registration for internet-based drug providers is ongoing.
The PCN registrar revealed that they have the full support of the Police to enforce the law.
“We have the support of the inspector general of police.
“He has designated someone to serve as a liaison officer between the PCN and the Interpol department of the office of the IGP.
“So, if there is any reporting, they will help us to carry out an investigation and then we will bring the offender of the law to justice.”
Mohammed said that online pharmaceutical practitioners must be ready to adhere to the guidelines.
“The major requirement is that the firm must have someone who will be responsible to the PCN.
“That is a superintendent pharmacist.
“So, they must have a pharmacist.
“They must also have a physical building with an address that we can be tracked.
“They must equally comply with other regulations like having a CAC registration for the company and having the relevant document to prove it.
“Those are the major things that are needed for now.”
He further spoke on the significance of stakeholders being aware of this guideline.
Mohammed said the need to keep them informed necessitated the meeting of this new law.
He also emphasised that non-pharmaceutical drug selling remains illegal.
“Non-pharmaceutical outlets selling and advertising drugs online are running afoul of the law.
“Drugs are on the exclusive list of the federal government and before you can go into the drug business, there are certain things you must do and some requirements you must meet.
“So, anyone or a trader cannot just wake up and start selling drugs.
“Drugs are poison, so they must be handled in a way and manner that will be beneficial to the Nigerian populace.
“Registration for online pharmacies will commence by January 1st, 2022.
“That is why we are having this stakeholders meeting.
“It is to ensure that all parties get acquitted with what is required.
“So far, about 50 applications have been received, but, we can’t just start processing them without interfacing with the companies to let them know exactly what they are expected to do and that is the whole idea of the meeting.”
The spokesperson for the online pharmacist Abimbola Adebakin defended the online drug business.
Adebakin opined that these sellers are filling the gaps in the demand for medicines.
She, however, applauded the initiative of the PCN. According to her, this would assure Nigerians on the efficacy of online medicines.
“We saw a gap and we are filling it.
“When many people are looking for drugs that are genuine and affordable, they go to the physical pharmacies but sometimes, they cannot find the drug, not because the physical pharmacies do not want it to be available, but because they cannot cater to all the needs of everyone.
“We, however, urge the PCN not to be draconian in their implementation of the guidelines and to also be ready for a review of the law, because we are both learning.
“It is very vital for digital health to be promoted in Nigeria and Africa at large.
“We are happy with the PCN’s initiative as the regulatory body is doing a service to protect the country and Nigerians.
“We are happy that PCN has recognised online pharmacy, by setting up guidelines, but I urged the body to work with the online pharmacies”
Source: PUNCH HealthWise