The Pharmacy Council says it is stepping-up its efforts at ensuring that pharmacies operating in the country employ qualified pharmacists.
According to the Council, the move has become critical to protect lives as expert diagnoses are needed before drugs are dispensed. The move is also to ensure the law that established the Council as regulator of the sector is enforced.
Per the law, the Pharmacy Council is to grant a licence to a body corporate or government institution to carry on the business of mixing, compounding, preparing or supplying restricted medicines by retail under the supervision of a superintendent pharmacist.
Speaking to the B&FT in an interview, the Deputy Registrar for Professional Development at the Pharmacy Council, Albert Wiredu Arkoh, said the requirement of a name and signature of a superintendent pharmacist is key before any licence is issued; therefore, none of the registered 2,800 pharmacies has an excuse not to have one.
“We cannot renew the licence of a pharmacy without a pharmacist’s name being on the licence. Every facility that has an active licence has to have a pharmacist present. Our people go to the field, and when they do not meet the pharmacist we invite them for questioning and appropriate action is taken against them. Recently, in the Tema enclave, we went there for enforcement and met some pharmacies with no pharmacist present. We asked them to come and explain to us before they are allowed to continue operation,” Mr. Arkoh said.
In the years past, pharmacists were used to employing the services of Superintendent Pharmacist who, though fully employed, was still eligible to superintend other pharmacy facilities for a fee – but the council insists it will no longer tolerate this arrangement.
The Pharmacy Owners Association has always expressed concerns about the number of pharmacists available in the country, as they are not sufficient to be distributed among all registered pharmacies due to engagements in hospitals and other health facilities.
Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Pharmacy, Anthony Ameka, stated that only about 50 percent of pharmacy owners across the country will be able to meet this strict directive by the Council.
In a petition, the Chamber of Pharmacy appealed to the Pharmacy Council, Minister of Health, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Chairman of the Governing Board of the Pharmacy Council, and President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana to intervene in finding an amicable solution to the problem.
“In this era when the pharmacy owners are baffled with numerous regulatory and economic challenges in managing their facilities, a relevant association such as this becomes essential to assist and support pharmacy owners to grow their businesses by serving as a voice that represents their interest in Ghana,” the petition said.
The Chamber has however urged the Governing Board of the Pharmacy Council to allow the Pharmacy Owners Association to engage the services of a ‘Locum Pharmacist’ to hold the fort while working on engaging Superintendent Pharmacists for their pharmacies.