Lagos State chapter of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria has called on the state government to include pharmacists as care providers in its health insurance scheme.

Speaking at the association’s annual general meeting, the chairman, Pharm Lawrence Ekhator, said pharmacists must be duly engaged in the scheme, adding that it would yield little or no interest if ACPN does not have a space in the Lagos State Health Insurance Scheme.

He said, “We are insisting as ACPN that pharmacists that live where the people nearer to the people should be embedded in the scheme. Drugs remain on the exclusive list and anywhere where drugs are sold, the places must be accredited and regulated by the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria

“We know that most of the clinics used currently do not have registered pharmaceutical premises, only the government-owned have it. We are asking the Lagos State Health scheme, where are Lagosians getting pharmaceutical care? It is not just about giving out drugs; the patients need to know how the drugs are used.”

The Lagos ACPN chairman also lamented the huge payment required by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control from members of the association for the destruction of drug products, saying it was unsustainable.

“One of our challenges has been interacting with our basic regulators, trying to push across what the members want in respect of what the regulators are doing. The regulators are the Pharmacist Council of Nigeria, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control. Top of this is the issue with the NAFDAC on the destruction of expired drug products and we have been engaging them to let them know that community pharmacists can’t lose from both ends.

“Drugs have expired, we have lost money and we voluntarily want to give out those drugs to the regulatory agencies but they are insisting that we have to make payment to destroy those drugs. This has been a serious issue. In so doing, we are saying, if they are discouraging pharmacists from submitting their expired drugs to them, what they are saying is they don’t want us to participate in safeguarding the health of the populace, which is their mantra. We are enjoining NAFDAC to look at how they can adjust this policy.

“It is only community pharmacists that are willing to do this, the quacks, the people that are selling drugs everywhere will prefer to revalidate expired drugs because they don’t want to lose money but as professionals trained in the issues of drug, we are urging NAFDAC to look at the issues again and see what they can do when it comes to payment for expired drugs destruction,” Ekhator said.

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