The Bayelsa State Government has challenged the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) to embark on research for the production of quality medicines to meet the healthcare needs of the country.
The Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, gave the charge when the Bayelsa State branch of PSN paid him a courtesy visit in Government House, Yenagoa on Wednesday.
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Doubara Atasi, the Deputy Governor described the pharmaceutical industry as an essential sub-sector in the healthcare service delivery system of the country.
He, however, noted that the PSN had only been focusing on regulation of the pharmacy profession and welfare of its members at the expense of conducting research and the production of drugs.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo, who expressed concern at the over-dependence on foreign drugs for healthcare services, observed that the organization was dissipating too much energy on condemning alternative medicine practice in the country.
He pointed out that although alternative medicine practitioners had created some problems, it is also true that the efficacy of their medicines in curing some ailments had been established.
The Deputy Governor called for the immediate setting up of a pharmaceutical research unit in the state Ministry of health and the Department of Pharmacy at the state-owned Niger Delta University to undertake clinical research.
Condemning quackery in the profession, Senator Ewhrudjakpo said many pharmacy outlets in Yenagoa and elsewhere in the state do not maintain the right and prescribed temperature to preserve their drugs, which affects their potency.
Consequently, he urged the health ministry to work closely with the PSN in the area of monitoring and supervision to check unwholesome pharmaceutical practices in the state.
His words: “The role of pharmacy in medicine, no doubt, is key. But sometimes due to either self-interest or delusion, we leave this our status and begin to hover in areas that are not our traditional areas.
“Unfortunately, over the years the pharmaceutical society and the pharmacy profession seem to be focusing on one direction. I think you are not doing enough in terms of encouraging the manufacturing of Nigerian-made drugs.
“I mean a situation where all coagulants and other necessary components were strictly obtained as a result of research in Nigeria. That seems to be lacking.
“In addition to this, we still have this tendency of pulling down ourselves. And when you operate in that kind of environment, it is not possible for anybody to grow.
“Our reliance on foreign drugs is a major issue, which is the reason why we are not looking at local capacity. Our traditional medicine practitioners or alternative medicine practitioners may not be doing right thing.
“But I think we have used so much energy trying to condemn alternative medicine than trying to do anything from it. Instead of antagonizing alternative medicine practitioners, let us see how we partner with them and see what we can pick out of what they are doing”, he said.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the Bayelsa State branch of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Pharmacist Ronari Charles, solicited the support and partnership of the state government in organizing the 2021 World Pharmacists Day in the state billed for next month.
The PSN Chairman also requested the state government to provide logistical support for routine pharmaceutical inspections and the recruitment of more pharmacists at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri.