Prescription drugs are a key component in the healthcare rural Nigerians receive. Pharmacies and pharmacists, in particular, play a critical role in dispensing these medications, educating patients, and ensuring patient safety. However, rural community pharmacies face many challenges to stay open, including low-volume purchasing, slim profit margins, unfavorable insurance practices, and a limited pharmacy workforce.
When a pharmacy is not available nearby, timely access to pharmaceutical services can be compromised due to lack of transportation options, extreme weather conditions, or the patient being too sick to travel the long distance to the nearest pharmacy.
While the development of telepharmacy and online mail order pharmacies might suggest that geographical limits to access are no longer a concern, many rural residents do not have the equipment, technical skills, and/or telecommunications accessibility that these services require. In addition, telepharmacy is not currently allowed by regulation or statute in some states. Rural pharmacies and pharmacists will continue to fill an important and much-needed role in the health of rural people.
Looks at the financial viability of rural pharmacies
Discusses the challenges to providing accessible prescription drugs
Explores technological advances and new business models in providing pharmacy services
Addresses the rural pharmacy workforce shortage
What challenges exist to maintain rural pharmacy services?
A 2017 analysis by the RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis indicated the closure of rural pharmacies has slowed down. However, there continue to be several issues of concern by rural pharmacists that challenge their provision of pharmacy services including:
Outdated maximum allowable cost (MAC) pricing for wholesale costs to pharmacies
Direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees charged to rural pharmacies
Pharmacy sales companies, practices restricting their preferred networks to mail order and chain store pharmacies
Competition from mail order companies and chain store pharmacies who often are able to purchase, and who are mostly in the cities
prescription drugs in large volume at a reduced cost
Difficulty in finding replacement pharmacists due to retirement or the sale of the pharmacy
Many of these issues put financial pressures on rural pharmacies that can lead to closure, limiting access to pharmacies and pharmacy services for residents.
how ever, let’s take a look at some vital guides to running a rural Pharmacy.
Guide on How to Start a Pharmacy in rural setting in 2022:
1. Register Your Business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and PCN
Just like any other business, you would need to register your pharmacy to be legit, you will need to register it with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as a business entity and also with the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria (PCN).
The PCN stipulates the minimum requirements that must be met before any individual can be permitted to run a pharmacy.
2. Find a Good Location in that village:
In selecting a location for your pharmacy, there are two things that you will need to note. First, you have to get your location approved by the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PCN) and secondly, you would need to consider how profitable the location is to your pharmacy business.
You need to also consider how easily accessible is your pharmacy shop to your customers. The best place to locate a pharmacy is near a government owned hospital, since they hardly have the required drugs prescribed for patients.
3. Source for the required capital
To open a pharmaceutical isn’t child’s play. Questions like “How much does it take to open a pharmacy store comes to mind when you want to start off.
You have to carry out a feasibility study on this cause, carry out your research so that you will find out the capital that will be needed to start off your own drug store. This will solely depend on the kind of scale you intend to start with.
4.Find a Credible Supplier that can access the village:
This is an important factor that will determine how the business will fare. You would need a steady supply of registered drugs which will be placed on the shelf for display to customers that are willing to patronize you. Find a credible supplier and build a good relationship with such supplier. If it is a wholesaler, the better. Be careful to only display drugs that have been dully registered by NAFDAC and NDLEA so as not to be found wanting with the law.
5. Employ competent staff From the locality
If you are going to run a mega pharmacy store, its best you hire qualified staff that will assist you. As earlier said if you are not a trained pharmacist, employ one that have the idea of the functions of the drugs and how to prescribe such drugs to your customers.
6. Publicize your pharmacy business
Once you have successfully opened your drug store, you would have to advertise your business to people to see. Posters, online advertising, newspaper advert are just a few of where you can publicize your pharmaceutical store business, do door step to door step advert with the villagers. Always try to keep your customers satisfied so that they would always patronize you.
Finally, It is also advisable to draw up a business plan before you start a pharmacy in Nigeria as this will help you in planning how the business would fare on the long run.