The Open Drug Market: why you should care

The Federal Government vowed to put an end to the indiscriminate sale and distribution of medicines and other related products via the open-drug market by January, 2019.

It is August, 2019 and not much has changed. An open drug market is a place where medicines are sold without regulation.

Healthcare professionals especially pharmacists were both sceptical and excited about this new prospect largely because this important policy step had been postponed on several occasions even though it could be a major turning point for healthcare in Nigeria.

Sadly, the policy is still yet to kick off as a lot of important measures are still yet to be in place.

Most Nigerians were wondering if the success of these new guidelines for drug distribution will make any difference, or why it is important for them to care.

Open-drug markets have been a reality for so long. The cure of and ultimately survival from many diseases depends on timely and proper treatment with medicines.

Nigerians who care about living longer and healthier lives should be concerned about where these live-saving medications come from and how they get in to our drug cabinets.

Consider the prevalent disease malaria, everyone has in some way been affected by it and it’s caused by the parasite Plasmodium.

Aside the measures to prevent its transmission by mosquitoes using insecticides and mosquito-nets, when we come down with malaria the only way to get definite cure is with the use of antimalarial, commonly referred to as “malaria medicine”.

Medicines are important for a successful healthcare system. These products are manufactured by pharmaceutical companies both in Nigeria and abroad after years of research

This pharmaceutical companies make a variety of the same drug available for use by the patient depending on his/her economic needs.

The World Health Organization recommends Artemisinin combination (ACT) therapies for malaria treatment in Nigeria and these drugs whether made in Nigeria or abroad find their way to shelves in community and hospital pharmacies as well as ’chemist” shops across the nation.

The journey to the shelf is a very interesting one that will strike fear in the hearts of many Nigerians who care about their health.

This is where it affects you.

In the Open-drug market, the malaria medicine made by xyz pharmaceuticals is imported into the country by most often unlicensed and unqualified importers.

On arriving at the port, due process is sometimes not followed by the relevant agencies, the NAFDAC number maybe gotten legally or illegally, then this medicine will most times end up in open-drug markets at Kano, Onitsha, Idumota and Aba.

The safety of most of these drugs cannot be genuinely confirmed. Since the drug business is a “cash-cow” everyone wants a piece of the action.

All sorts of people, sometimes with minimal education and little or no knowledge of pharmaceuticals, their composition, use and their recommended storage get involved in drug distribution.

Many are just businessmen out to make profit. XYZ malaria medicine is stored in the most improper manner, compromising its quality further.

As if poor storage isn’t enough, counterfeits are fabricated from some genuine products.

“Oga Chem” and “nurse Eliza”: The unlicensed and many times not so legal drug stores procure drugs from these open-drug markets at cheaper rates in an effort to make undue profits.

So by the time the medication gets to your medicine cabinet, it might be a fake one or the activity of drug xyz is so compromised that it might not treat the disease.

Untreated malaria infection can ultimately lead to death or disability and that is how the open drug market can affect your health.

Hence it is important to buy all drugs from registered pharmacies and trusted drug stores.

It’s our hope that sooner than later the open drug market will become a thing of the past in Nigeria. It is our duty to insist that our government does the right thing.

#Healthy Naija

Pharm. Udeogalanya Ezinwanne

64 thoughts on “The Open Drug Market: why you should care”

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