Monday, 10 September 2012

Cynthia’s death stirs doctors, pharmacists rift over drug prescription .

NAFDAC plans probe, PSN defends members
THE death of Cynthia Udoka Osokogu  has  pitted  doctors  against  pharmacists  over  the sale of prescription drugs ,  as the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) plans an official enquiry into the matter.
Osokogu was recently killed by two young men, after they had  given  her  a prescription-drug-only obtained from a qualified pharmacist and registered pharmacy without  a doctor’s prescription.
The Guardian investigation revealed that there is no uniform or customized prescription form in the country, which is supposed to be issued annually to medical doctors by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) upon renewal of their licences. The Guardian found that in the absence of uniform prescription forms, individual doctors and their hospitals produce their own prescription forms.
It was  also learnt that prescription drugs could easily be obtained from most pharmacies and patent medicine vendors without doctors’ prescription in Lagos but at a higher cost.
However, the two regulatory bodies that are supposed to enforce the prescribing and dispensing of prescription drugs in the country, that is the MDCN and the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN) declined to speak with The Guardian on the issue.
The Acting Registrar of the PCN, Gloria Abumere, and the Acting Registrar of the MDCN, Dr. Udugbai Ilevbare declined comment when contacted.
But President  the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Osahaon Enabulele, in a telephone interview with The Guardian said the breach of the prescription drug rule by pharmacists was responsible for the death of Osokogu.
He said: “It is clear there is need for the whole issue to be enforced to ensure that pharmacists can only sell prescription drugs on presentation of prescription papers from a qualified medical doctor by a prospective buyer or patient. The constant breach of this procedure by most pharmacists is responsible for the death of Cynthia and others who might have fallen victim.
“This is a signal and a call to action for stakeholders to come together and regularize the issue of prescription of drugs, to stop this indiscriminate dispensing of drugs by pharmacists.”
The NMA president added: “The circumstances surrounding the tragic and unfortunate murder of Miss Cynthia Udoka Osokogu, once again underscores the need for drugs to be sold to the citizens of Nigeria only upon the production of a medical/dental practitioner’s prescription. The NMA therefore, calls on the Federal Government to strictly enforce prescription rights in Nigeria. We also call for  a speedy dispensation of justice in the murder case…”
The NMA president said there was need for the MDCN to have a customized paper for prescription of drugs. He said this would ensure some level of regularity and uniformity.
But the President PSN, Azubuike Okwor, told The Guardian that the lapses in the prescription drug system in the country was because the doctors  were the ones prescribing as well as dispensing the drugs due to financial incentives.
Okwor said: “Why is it that the doctors here are prescribing and dispensing? The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom (UK) is about 50 years. Registration is through the General Practitioner (GP) and 98 per cent of the drugs are bought from community pharmacists. The doctors send their prescription to pharmacists but in Nigeria due to financial incentives the doctors prescribe and dispense drugs.”
The PSN President said the PCN, MDCN, PSN and NMA and indeed many other professional stakeholders would sit and decide on the way to go, which has to be holistic. “You cannot have a situation where anybody sells drugs,” he said.
Okwor added: “As we speak now there is no standard document or procedure…”
He said the sale of prescription drugs without prescription as was the case of the two pharmacists allegedly involved in Cynthia’s murder was not criminal. Okwor explained: “What we are saying is that if somebody, a qualified pharmacist, sells drug without prescription it is not criminal, whether it is by prescription or not.
Reacting to the issue, the Director General of NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii, told The Guardian: “In case of Cynthia Osokogu I have not got the full facts but the extent that I know is that medicines that are not supposed to be dispensed just over the counter were dispensed to the people who ultimately used the medicine to sedate her and ultimately killed her and this unfortunately happened to licensed pharmacists who should have known better. I believe that they should not have given those medicines to those people but I do not have the full facts of the case. We would do our own investigation and come out with our own findings.”

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