Pharmacists fault ‘anomalies’ in MDCN bill

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As controversy over the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) Bill 2020 rages, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has kicked against a deliberate attempt by sponsors of the bill to undermine the constitutional power of Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) as the only body that can regulate Pharmacy Practice at both the private and public sector levels in Nigeria.

The pharmacists’ body accused the Chairman of Senate Committee on Health, Dr Ibrahim Oloriegbe, of attempting to force unimaginable clauses into the MDCN Bill in collaboration with his Medical and Dental Council colleagues.

The Chairman of the PSN, Lagos Chapter, Gbolagade Iyiola, in a press statement said: “We observe with dismay, the undisguised attempts by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, to force through the unimaginable sacrileges he and his medical collaborators had smuggled into the MDCN Bill 2020.”

He specifically picked holes on the “Section 42(1) Subject to subsection (4) which says: no person, other than a registered Medical Practitioner shall: (b) Take or use the title of Physician, Doctor or licentiate of medicine, medical practitioner or apothecary; and “42(2) Subject to Section (4) of this section, no person other than a registered Dental Surgeon shall (b) take or use the title of Dental Surgeon, Doctor, Dentist, Dental Officer or Dental Practitioner.

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Iyiola said: “We propose that Section 42(1) b should read: A. Take or use the title of Physician, Surgeon or licentiate of medicine or Medical Practitioner. Section 42(2) b should read: B. Take or use the title of Dental Surgeon, Dentist, Dental Officer or Dental Practitioner.

Continuing, he said: “These propositions can be justified to align with the PSN (Lagos State) amendment because in tandem with due process, it is the NUC by virtue of its enabling Act that has powers to draw and approve the curriculum of all academic programmes in Nigeria. If the NUC has graciously approved Doctor of Pharmacy, Doctor of Optometry, Doctor of Physiotherapy and related programmes in the Health Sector, the MDCN has no statutory powers to decree that holders of these degrees and titles cannot bear the title of Doctors neither can such constitute an offence within the purview of law.

“There is a legion of undergraduate programmes globally today where appropriate authorities have approved titles including Doctor of Law, Doctor of Theology, and Doctor of Arts etc. In the Health Sector, it is important to stress that Doctor based programmes are professional degrees and not academic degrees.”

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PSN describes as misnomer “Part V Miscellaneous Section 45(3)(d)” which says: “Only a Registered Pharmacist shall dispense medicines prescribed by a Registered Medical Practitioner or Dental Surgeon. Section 45(3)(e): “Nothing in the foregoing shall preclude a Registered Medical Practitioner or Dental Surgeon or a Registered Nurse under the supervision of a Doctor or Dentist from providing medicines in the absence of a Registered Pharmacist,” demanding that it is completely expunged from the draft document

It further argued that: “This can be rationalised for the following reasons: 1. The spirit of the relevant Pharmacy Acts vs the Poison & Pharmacy Act in Part III Sections 7 & 8 and the PCN Act CAP P.17 LFN 2004 in Section 1(1)(d) which gives the PCN a specific approbation in law to regulate and control Pharmacy practice in all its aspects and ramifications in Nigeria.

“The Federal High Court, Lagos in a landmark ruling in October, 2007 affirmed the powers of the PCN as the only body that can regulate Pharmacy Practice at both the private and public sector levels in Nigeria. The MDCN logically cannot therefore exercise the powers of the PCN to regulate Pharmacy practice through the back door. “The fall-out of this suit is also pending at the Court of Appeal. 2. Healthcare remains a global and internationally driven practice. One of the golden rules and norms in the prescribing and dispensing of drugs is that both the prescriber and the dispenser of medicines are forbidden to have pecuniary interest or gain so that the patient enjoys the best clinical decision that must be made by the prescriber.

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“It is interesting that in the MDCN draft bill, no consideration or thought was put in print for a next line of action in the absence of the Medical Doctor or Dentist.”

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