Anthonia Aruya, the Director, Inspection and Monitoring Unit, Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria on Friday said 596 pharmaceutical stores were sealed in Gombe during an inspection and monitoring exercise.
Aruya, who disclosed this to newsmen in Gombe, said the state was the 31st the council had visited so far in the course of its inspection and monitoring.
She said it was discovered during the inspection that many operators of pharmaceutical stores in the state were not following due process.
She said: “The exercise which is being carried out in all the states of Nigeria is sequel to marching orders by the National Assembly and the Federal Ministry of Health, following the codeine incident earlier in the year.”
She also said in the course of the inspection, the council officials discovered that many of the operators lacked the requisite knowledge to handle medicine in their stores.
Aruya said the observations from Gombe State were disheartening, and that some of the persons in the different pharmaceutical stores could not communicate in English.
She said: “Some of the persons involved in the sale of medicines cannot communicate in plain English and they operate these illegal shops at will to the detriment of the public.”
The PCN director said at the end of the exercise in Gombe State, 700 pharmaceutical stores were inspected.
Aruya said: “Out of the 700 inspected, 596 premises were sealed comprising nine pharmacies and 585 Patent and Proprietary Medicines Vendors.
“Nineteen Patent Medicine Shops and three pharmacies were given compliance directives for various offences.
“The listed offences include improper handling of controlled substances, unhygienic environment, poor documentation, dispensing ethical or prescription drugs without the presence of a pharmacist.”
She decried the action of unqualified persons involved in the pharmaceutical business, saying it was frightening and could jeopardise public safety.
Aruya applauded the Federal Ministry of Health, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Nigeria Police and journalists for collaborating with PCN in the fight against quackery.
The director advised the general public to always ask for the registration status of pharmaceutical outlets by requesting for their licences to safeguard themselves from quacks.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that Nigeria announced a ban on the production and import of cough syrup containing codeine in May, after a British Broadcasting Corporation investigation into its role in an addiction epidemic.
The BBC investigation showed the syrup being sold in the black market to be used by young Nigerians to get high.
It recorded a number of pharmaceutical outlets selling the drug illegally.
The joint probe by the BBC’s new investigation unit, Africa Eye, and BBC Pidgin prompted a swift response from people across the country.
Olajide Oshundun, The Assistant Director, Information, Federal Ministry of Health, reportedly said that the ban was a result of months of work by a committee, which submitted a report into the widespread abuse of the medication.