Absence of Pharmacy Council governing body stalls investments
The absence of a Governing Body at the Pharmacy Council is severely hampering business in the pharmaceutical sector, with hundreds of investors unable to obtain licenses to commerce operations.
The laws regulating the pharmacy industry requires that all new applications be sanctioned by a Governing Body of the Council, but since the change of government and the dissolution of all governing boards, including that of the Pharmacy Council, several investors seeking to establish new businesses have been left in limbo.
According to the new Registrar of the Council, Pharm Audu Rauf, who assumed office about three months ago, even when a Governing Body is place, it only meets four times in a year, hence unable to deal with all applications -- a situation he explained has created an overwhelming backlog.
“When I came, there were lots of backlog applications dating back, some are yet to be inspected, and others have been inspected waiting for the board’s decision on them. And by practice the board sits once in a quarter so the whole year, maximum by our rules, the board will sit four times. Until something happens that is when they will call for an emergency meeting.
So the applications are so many that it overwhelms the sitting of the board. So I sat down and looked at it and said: “we should have a new policy direction, a new policy framework to be able to address the situation, but not to go contrary to the rules and regulations of the council, which I am very much committed to solving,” he told the B&FT.
His comments follow several complaints from investors who say they have rented facilities as well as personnel, but have been frustrated by the failure of the Pharmacy Council to issue them licenses to enable them begin business.
To rectify the situation, Mr. Audu disclosed that the Minister of Health has given the go ahead to constitute a committee to among other things, approve applications for licenses on the interim pending the appointment of a Governing Body.
“When I came and saw the problem, I had a meeting with the Minister of Health who has powers to give directives and we looked at how to solve this problem because it is not business friendly. We are even very fortunate that people have not taken us on.
So now the new way is there is going to be a committee, the policy framework has been developed. They will work within and approve the licenses in the backlog and then whenever the board comes in we will rectify it and give them the permanent license. That is the way to go now,” he narrated.
Asked when the said committee is expected, he said, “It is most likely that within this week the committee will be commissioned but the date is not certain since I am about to meet the minister. We have agreed upon the policies and everything.”
The committee is to be made up of all heads of departments of the Council, one person from academia as chair and two others from pharmacy practice.
To reduce the bane of investors and cut down the waiting period, the committee will be meeting as often as possible to among others things, look at reports, new applications for licenses, renewals, and other matters affecting the industry. It will report to the Registrar and will continue to exist even when a board is constituted.
“The first assurance is that a committee is going to be in place which is going to be commissioned soon. And we have given the committee at least not even up to two months to finish their work,” he added.