Pharmacy stores in Nigeria are widely referred to as drug stores or chemist shops where people purchase drugs. Unarguably, a pharmacy store serves a critical need beyond drug dispensing. It is a point of care where patients or clients interact with a drug expert, a pharmacist, who offers them adequate and accurate drug information, counselling as well an opportunity for point of care screening on hypertension, diabetes, malaria, hepatitis and other conditions.
The pharmacist provides patient-centered care while also ensuring to refer patients to a hospital or laboratory for further examination, in order to aid accurate diagnosis. Community pharmacists, for example, are the health professionals most accessible to the public (Pharma Times, 2017). They supply medicines in accordance with a prescription or, when legally permitted, sell them without a prescription.
Asides ensuring an accurate supply of appropriate, safe and efficacious products, their professional activities also include patient counselling at the time of dispensing of prescription and non-prescription drugs, drug information to health professionals, patients and the general public, in addition to participation in health promotion programmes. They ensure interprofessional relationships with other health professionals in primary health care. (WHO, 1994).
Pharmacists in the research space are also skilled in drug discovery and design to identify a drug molecule with a therapeutic effect. Pharmacists practice in the hospitals, communities, production companies, research centres, public health organisations, and so on.
History of Pharmacy Practice in Nigeria
- Hospital Pharmacy Practice: It started as at 1900 in Nigeria when there were only four hospitals located in Lagos, Asaba (Delta State), Abeokuta (Ogun State) and Calabar (Cross-River State). All adopted the same hospital formulary. Three of the hospitals were government-owned and one, a missionary (Catholic) hospital.
- Community Pharmacy Practice: It started in 1887 with Mr Richard Zaccheus Bailey in what is known today as Balogun Street of Lagos State. He opened the first ‘pharmacy’ store, offering pharmaceutical advice and drug administration to European clients and a few African elites. Other retail pharmaceutical stores did not come into existence until the 1920’s and much later. The West African Drug Company Limited was established in 1924, while commercial Medicine stores (by Chief S. T. Hunponu-Wusu and Mr Robert Olatunji Adebowale) and Phillips Medicine Stores (by Thomas King Ekundayo Phillips) were established in the 1940’s all in Lagos.
- Industrial Pharmacy Practice: it started with May and Baker in 1944, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer in 1954. These pharmaceutical companies were mainly into importation and marketing of pharmaceuticals. Large-scale drug production began in the 60s involving government agencies, multinational companies and private entrepreneurs. Presently, there are more than 115 registered pharmaceutical manufacturers in Nigeria. These companies manufacture various pharmaceutical dosage forms with authorisation and regulation by National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
Pharmacy Education in Nigeria
Pharmacy education in Nigeria passed through five developmental stages:
- Training of dispensers through apprenticeship (1887 – 1923)
- Training of dispensers through formal schools of pharmacy e.g. School of Pharmacy (Yaba), School of Pharmacy (Zaria)
- Training of chemists and druggist (1927 – 1972) in School of Pharmacy, Yaba and Zaria and Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Ibadan.
- Training of pharmacists at bachelor’s degree level (1963 to date).
- Training of pharmacists at Doctor of Pharmacy Degree level (2016 to date).
Written by: Olanrewaju Adeoke