By Ngala Hansel
Some forty-eight senior pharmacy staff from ten CBC Health Services facilities met at the CBC Main Hall at the Baptist Center in Bamenda from June 15 to 16, 2017. During the interactions, the experts deliberated on a number of issues including educating senior pharmacy staff who work with doctors on some aspects of drugs that when not well understood lead to therapeutic failure and poor clinical outcomes. The meeting focused on bioequivalence and bioavailability.
While “bioavailability” refers to the rate and extent to which a drug is available to serve as a substrate, bind to a specific molecule or participate in biochemical reactions in a target tissue after administration, “bioequivalence” is a term in pharmacokinetics (the branch of pharmacology concerned with the movement of drugs within the body) used to assess the expected in vivo biological equivalence of two proprietary preparations of a drug. If two products are said to be bioequivalent it means that they would be expected to be, for all intents and purposes, the same.
Also, the conclave sought to school the Central Pharmacy (CP) procurement department to stick to particular brands of a drug when administering treatment to patients, especially those with long term conditions like diabetes or hypertension, because “Changing the drugs frequently, makes it difficult for the patient’s condition to stabilize” explained Pharmacist Ngah Edward, General Manager of the CBC Central Pharmacy in Mutengene.
Speaking further to the CBCHS Press, Pharmacist Ngah explained that for efficacy to be maintained, care has to be taken that the drugs being administered to patients are not being changed abruptly, so this entails close collaboration between the technicians and physicians for the best results to be achieved.
On day one of the workshop, there were two principal presentations with the first by Dr. Gerald Frunjang, pharmacist at Mbingo Baptist Hospital (MBH) who expounded on Bioavailability and Bioequivalence in Relation to Patient Care. Another presentation by Pharmacist Mainemo Humphrey dwelled on the Clinical and Scientific Applications of Bioavailability and Bioequivalence in relation to pharmacy practice and medicine.
Participants also took time to look at some of the discussions they had during a previous workshop of a similar magnitude which held in September 2016 at BBH. Day one also saw reports being brought by leaders of the four pharmacy zones which are the BBH zone, Mbingo zone, Southwest/Littoral zone and Yaounde zone. The reports enumerated a number of challenges they face and solutions were proposed to these, while those that could not be addressed were channelled to hierarchy.
Day two of the workshop saw presentations by the Chief of Drug Unit, Mr. Wanyu Nathan and another by the Operations Manager, Mr. Ngang Paul who doubles as Administrator of the CBC Health Services Complex (HSC) Mutengene on Vision 2020 and what the Central Pharmacy (CP) hopes to accomplish by then.
Mr. Wanyu’s presentation focused on the difficulties CP is facing in making drugs available paramount among which is the fact that CP is still receiving consignments of orders that were confirmed in 2015 due to late payment. For this reason, some of these drugs arrive the country when they are near expiration given that they were packaged almost a year back. The other challenge is the high turnover of physicians the CBC Health Services is having and leading to a lot of changes concerning prescription patterns.
Issues of drug quality were also touched on in a third presentation by Pharm. Ngah on Biopharmaceutic classification systems (a relatively new field in pharmaceutic drug manufacturing). The CP GM explained that when the physiochemical properties of drugs are understood, it helps in making them bioavailable.
The workshop was opened officially on day one by the Chief of Administration and Finance (CAF), Mr. Warri Denis who was accompanied by the Chief of Secretariat, Mrs. Ndi Maria. This was after devotions that were brought by Mrs. Ngoh Mildred Leinyuy of the Center for Clinical Pastoral Education and Social Services (CECPES).
The CAF who was representing the Director of Health Services, Prof. Tih Pius Muffih who was working in another part of the country at the time, lauded the great work the pharmacy department is doing within the CBCHS. He beckoned on them to stick to scientifically proven medicine like they were doing and assured them of the CBCHS leadership’s commitment to ensuring the best possible pharmacy services in all CBCHS facilities.