A Study to Assess the Challenges of Healthcare Professionals in Spontaneous Identification of Falsified Drugs: Upgrading Pharmacovigilance in Nigeria

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Nwankwo, Chimezie Chris
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Drug Frauds are on the increase, falsified drugs are giving sleepless nights to both patients, healthcare professionals as well governments of different countries, and thus the regulation prohibiting the sales and production of falsified drugs cannot succeed with any form technological intervention. The study aims to evaluate several criteria that as contributed to the challenges of identifying falsified drugs among healthcare professionals- medical doctors, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals in Nigeria. Through a questionnaire-based survey and phone interview for both the quantitative and qualitative analyses, respectively a review would be done. For this to be achieved the knowledge, awareness, and possible challenges faced by the professionals concerning falsified drug identification were considered to recommend an effective recommendation on different ways to improve such practice of pharmacovigilance in Nigeria. In this thesis all the groups of healthcare professionals a comparison was made to ascertain different opinions on frequency observed on falsified drugs, ways of detecting falsified drugs, the technology used in identifying falsified drugs, as well as regulatory agency responsible for reporting of falsified drugs in Nigeria. A total of 131 responded to the survey of whom 62 (45.80%) were medical doctors and 43 (32.82%) were pharmacists as well as 43 (32.82%) were other healthcare professionals. It was fascinating to see that 62% of the respondents agreed to the fact that they know how to identify falsified drugs (40 medical doctors, others 18, pharmacist 23) while 42%(13 medical doctors, others 17, pharmacist 12) of the respondents did not know. Only 6% of the healthcare professionals (7 medical doctors, 1 pharmacist) are not sure if they can detect fake drugs in Nigeria. From the study conducted it was unfortunate to note that pharmacists had average knowledge, awareness in comparison to a medical doctor who had better awareness of the in identifying fake drugs. However, 95% of all the respondents all agreed that identifying falsified drugs and reporting it should be made compulsory as part of the way of upgrading pharmacovigilance in Nigeria. Some of the challenges that all respondents majorly agreed to are inadequate existing laws, ignorance among healthcare professionals, presence of non-health professionals in the health sector business, high cost of quality drugs,and finally the high level of corruption. All respondents also agreed that continuous learning can create more awareness of the challenges of falsified drugs, including heavy fines and sanctions on defaulters and also creating a special department that would be tasked with the responsibility of monitoring falsified drugs in the market.

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