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Pharmacists set to tackle drug abuse

The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has reiterated its commitment to tackling drug abuse.

Its President, Ahmed Yakasai stated this during a training for reporters in Lagos.

It was part of activities by the society marking the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

According to Yakasai, drug abuse has reached unprecedented level across all the geopolitical zones in the country.

“The continuous loss of lives to drug abuse and misuse is really disturbing. This has really perturbed us as professionals. We have put up measures to tackle the menace. We have started with internal regulation and sanitising, which brought us to realise that out of about one million pharmacies operating in Nigeria, only 50,000 renew their licence annually,” he said.

Yakasai unveiled a report of a  survey by PSN. In the survey titled: ‘’Pharmacists’ perceptions and knowledge and attitudes on the menace of pharmaceutical drug Abuse in Nigeria’’, the body said only 16 per cent of its members have received training on substance abuse disorders.

Yakasai said the asociation’s Narcotics and Drug Abuse Committee had been educating people on the dangers of drug abuse. He called on the government and other stakeholders to pay more attention to the menace.

“We believe that with utmost commitment from all stakeholders, we can reduce drug abuse to the lowest ebb in Nigeria. Our focus should be more on prevention of drug abuse as well as treatment of drug addiction in various parts of the country.”

Yakasai said only 16 per cent of pharmacists have been trained on substance disorders, though 97 per cent have good knowledge of drug abuse as a social problem.

In the survey, he said, 86 per cent indicated that they could identify signs of drug abuse in addicted persons, but only 46 per cent are familiar with counselling techniques for persons addicted, while 24 per cent are familiar with treatment protocols for substance abuse disorders.

Yakasai said in the face of the drug abuses, many pharmacies failed to renew their licences.

The survey, he noted, identified factors boosting drug abuse to include peer pressure, cultism, open drug markets, inadequate regulatory control, inadequate logistics and prevalence of illegal medicine outlets and presence of drug hawkers.

He also identified common drugs of abuse to include cough syrups with codeine, alcohol, diazepam, bromazepam, methamphetamine and amphetamine.

According to the study, to tackle drug abuse, there should be capacity development on drug abuse and treatment protocols should be encouraged and enhanced, training for pharmacists, and pharmacy staff, regulators to reinforce regulatory control, institute audit trail for drugs manufactured locally or imported into the country, raise awareness of local drug abuse trends, document and report them by pharmacists.

Others include the need to raise the level of control, drug abuse prevention should be instituted in the curriculum from primary schools, policy on rehabilitation of drug addicts should be established and disseminated, and more rehabilitation centres should be built.

Specially designed prescription sheets should be designed and used for controlled medicines to aid documentation and control amongst others, the survey stated.

He said banning or suspending marketing licences or sale of the products would affect the control or manage drug abuse as it would only result in drugs becoming more expensive as users and sellers go underground and become difficult to track.

In his lecture titled: “Contemporary issues in healthcare delivery (drug abuse and misuse, AMR, fake and falsified drugs and drug distribution) and PSN,”  Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) Registrar,  Elijah Mohammed said drug abuse is a moral and mental health challenge.

Mohammed listed the blocking the supply source as one way to stop drug abuse.

He said once the new National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG) takes off next January 1 and with good enforcement, it would reduce drug abuse.

Represented by PCN Public Relations Officer (PRO), Peter Iliya, Mohammed added “There is no need to vilify or criminalise drug abuse and misuse or to stigmatise the victims; what the victims need is empathy, rehabilitation and re-orientation.

“The phenomenon of antimicrobial resistance is of great concern. This is more so that even antibiotics that are considered the last arrows in our quivers in the war against microbes have already fallen victim to antimicrobial resistance. Rational use of antimicrobial agents is, therefore, very essential in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.”

He added: “In Nigeria, the existence of open drug markets is a major source of falsified and fake medicines. However, at the centre of this menace is the issue of drug distribution in Nigeria. If we have a good, well-regulated and sanitised drug distribution system in Nigeria, fake and falsified medicines would be a thing of the past.

“Drug distribution is a key and strategic component of any healthcare system. A healthcare delivery system lacks credibility and legitimacy without good drugs. It is therefore paramount for us to have a good drug distribution system that can guarantee safe, efficacious and affordable medicines across all levels of health care delivery in Nigeria.

“For a long time, our drug distribution system has been in a shambles and disarray due mainly to poor regulation occasioned by absence of political will by successive Governments at the centre,” he added.
Pharmacists set to tackle drug abuse Reviewed by Akande Boluwatife on July 20, 2018 Rating: 5

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