Over 20 community pharmacies forced out of business over COVID-19 -Official

Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis

National Chairman of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, Dr. Samuel Adekola, says over 20 of its members have been forced out of business since the outbreak of COVID-19.

This is just as he admonished the Federal Government to consider using pharmacies as a point-of-delivery for distribution of COVID-19 vaccine in 2021.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, Adekola disclosed that he had had occasions when concerned members called to intimate him about their plan to suspend operations.

He expressed further concerns that there might still be more pharmacies that could be affected by the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic and attendant economic recession.

“We have had a scenario where some pharmacies shut down operations. On average, we have over 20 pharmacies that have been forced out of business across the country this year.

“There were occasions where some of the affected community pharmacists called to inform me that they have either shut down or no more in operation. As the ACPN national chairman, I am privy to such information.

“Even those who have not officially closed down just go to the store to while away the time. You know, this is the only office they have. A number of those places are no more viable,” he said.

The ACPN chairman explained that the suspension of operations was a result of a number of factors, including the economic recession on account of the outbreak of the pandemic.

“All these issues started with the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, which, subsequently, led to lockdown and subsequent economic recession.

“Don’t forget that our economy is dollar-dependent. The forex matter got so bad that Nigeria could not produce enough reservoir of dollars to cushion the effect.

“Fortunately, we are coming out of the recession,” he said.

When asked whether there is some level of concerns among pharmacy owners that availability of COVID-19 vaccines could affect revenues of pharmaceuticals next year, Adekola said that there was no cause for alarm.

“Some of the drugs being used today for the treatment of COVID-19 are regular day-to-day products. Apart from face masks and, probably, hand sanitisers, the other products are regular ones people have been buying before.

“There are also the likes of hydroxychloroquine and quinine that were used to take care of the pandemic. Don’t forget that these drugs have their own uses and benefits before COVID-19. Nothing too serious may change,” he stated.

He said that the distribution of vaccine when if it finally arrives would act as an additional stream of income rather than a setback.

“When you also talk about the vaccine, it is another source of income. There is ongoing advocacy globally that community pharmacies should be maximised by the government to provide avenues to deliver the COVID-19.

“For instance, in the United States today, 80 percent of the COVID-19 vaccine is to be delivered by pharmacies. That is also applicable to the remaining parts of Europe.

“But we know here in Nigeria, the Federal Government has not taken such opportunity yet,” he said.

Recall that Nigeria entered a recession for the second time in four years after a contraction in its gross domestic product for a second consecutive quarter.

According to African News, economists attributed the development to the fall in oil prices as well as the negative impact on the economy of the new coronavirus epidemic.

“Nigeria’s economy fell into recession in 2016 for the first time in two decades. It recovered in 2017 but has been slowing down since then.

“The country is Africa’s largest oil producer, producing about two million barrels a day, but the COVID-19 outbreak and falling fuel prices have reduced production to around 1.4 million barrels,” it stated.

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