Recently I read about a new rule in Nigeria which requires a pharmacist to have spent at least 5 years post graduation before he can be allowed to start a community pharmacy practice. This rule is among several other rules rolled out by the council with the intention of sanitizing the pharmacy practice and drug distribution system.

This rule, and the others, have attracted so much reaction from many pharmacists. There were both reactions in favour and against the new rules. Many holes have been picked in the rules especially as per the intentions.

In my own opinion, this rule is retrogressive in nature. This is an attempt to stifle the growth of young pharmacists and curtail any challenge to the older generation of pharmacists. For whatever reasons that this rule was based on it is not intended to move the profession forward.

In Nigeria, the pharmacist-patient ratio is below the recommended standard and it is worse when we consider those in community practice. As a result of this, the issue of patent medicine dealers was initiated to complement in rural areas. These patent medicine dealers are now everywhere in towns and cities. The only way to challenge this incursion is by allowing genuine pharmacies to proliferate. How can we achieve this when young pharmacists are not allowed to open their outlets with this new rule?

The younger generation  pharmacists are better informed and exposed on the new realities and challenges. They are being viewed by older generation pharmacists who refused to develop themselves as threat. They could bring up several reasons to support this rule but I see it as a way to curtail the perceived threat to the older generation.

If the main reason in lack of experience on the part of younger ones, it raises a question which is either that their training was faulty or the internship training is incomplete which in both cases the council can make necessary corrections. Parts of what I feel the council should proffer include making community practice experience mandatory during the internship, making pharmacists desiring to open community practice undergo practical training under the supervision of established community pharmacist, and increasing the scope of community practice and business education in the pharmacy training curriculum.

The above are more practical solutions that the 5 years waiting period prescribed. A pharmacist can wait for 5 years and still do what they feel they are trying to prevent.

This rules is self serving and should be resisted by all well meaning pharmacists. It is high time young pharmacists rose up to defend their interests. You must exert your position and bring the needed change to the practice of this noble profession. The ball is in your court.

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