Pharmacists and Chemists Should Collaborate

Patent medicine vendors popularly known as chemists get a bad reputation from pharmacists. Many are labelled as quacks and are believed to treat patients poorly. Somehow, however, patients still patronize them. Up to 55% of patients according to this study. You have to wonder why this is? Chemists seem to have gained the trust of their local communities and appear to provide a vital service to them. They fill the gaps where there are no pharmacists. Patients continuing to return to them must mean they are effective on some level. 

Some of their practice may leave much to be desired from the pharmacists’ viewpoint. However, is it possible that rather than being antagonistic towards them, pharmacists engage them and seek to organize formal partnerships? If you’re considering this it would be important to first know the regulation around patent medicine vendors. From the PCN:

‘All Patent Medicines Vendors are to note that Patent Medicines are to be sold in the original packs,
boxes, strips, foils, bottles, vessels, packets or covers under which they are packed by the

They are to be sold only in small packs, sizes or units not exceeding 100’s in the
case of tablets/capsules. In the case of oral liquid preparations, such as solution, syrup or
suspension, only packs of 15ml, 30ml, 100ml or 200ml are to be sold, and also, in their original
packs. In each, the pack shall be properly secured and bear the name or trade mark of the

All Patent Medicines sold must be those registered by the National Agency for Food and Drug
Administration and Control (NAFDAC).Repackaging or dispensing of any Patent Medicines by any Patent Medicines Vendor is prohibited.

Here is a list of drugs authorised to be sold in patent medicine shops.

1. Analgesics and Antipyretics a. Acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin)
Capsules/Tablets, 300mg;
b. Paracetamol
Capsules/Tablets – 125mg (Paediatric), 500mg (Adults),
Syrup/Suspension – 125mg/5ml (60ml, 100ml packs) 2
c. Ibuprofen
Capsules/Tablets – 200mg, 400mg
2. Non-Specific (General) Antidotes a. Charcoal, Activated
Powder/Granules, 5mg/sachet, Tablet, 1g
3. Anthelmintics a. Levamisole – Tablets/Syrup
Tablets, 40mg
Syrup, 40mg/5ml
b. Pyrantel
Tablets, 125mg
Syrup, 125mg/5ml
4. Antimalarials
a. Chloroquine
Capsules/Tablets, 50mg base (Paediatric) 150mg (Adult)
b. Pyrimethamine, 25mg plus Sulphadoxine 500mg
Tablets/Syrups (per 5ml)
c. Pyrimethamine
Tablets, 12.5mg, 25mg
5. Antiseptic and Disinfectant Solutions
a. Benzoin Compound Tincture
b. Chloroxylenol 5% solution (for dilution)
c. Dichloroxylenol plus Chlorophenol soap solution
d. Iodine solution, 30ml, 60ml
e. Methylated spirit, 50ml, 60ml
f. Sodium hypochlorite (1 – 10%), 250ml, 500ml
6. Anti-anaemia Drugs
a. Ferrous salts – Capsules/Tablets (As Fumarate, Gluconate, Sulphate, Succinate)
b. Ferric ammonium citrate mixture, 400mg/5ml
c. Folic Acid, Tablets, 5mg
7. Mouthwashes
a. Hexetidine solution, 0.1%
8. Dermatological (Anti-Infective Drugs)
a. Gentian violet tincture, Tincture, 1%
b. Silver Sulphadiazine cream, 1%
9. Antipruritic and Astringent Drugs
a. Calamine Lotion
b. Calamine plus Zinc oxide – Lotion/Plaster
10. Rubefacients and Inhalers
a. Methyl Salicylate compound preparation;
Balms, Creams, Embrocations, Liniments, Rubs, Ointments, Oils and Inhalers
11. Dusting Powder
Zinc, starch and talc dusting powder with or without menthol
12. Fungicides
a. Benzoic acid (6%) plus salicylic acid (3%) ratio 2:1, cream, ointment
b. Clotrimazole
Cream, ointment, 1%
Aerosol spray 1%
Dusting powder 1%
13. Keratolytic and Keratoplastic Drugs
a. Coal tar solution/ointment
b. Coal tar ointment U.S.P.
c. Salicylic acid, Ointment/Solution: Ointment, 2.5% Solution, 12% in flexible collodion
14. Scabicides and Pediculicides
a. Benzyl Benzoate emulsion, 25%
b. Monosulfiram solution/soap, 25%
15. Throat Antiseptic Preparations
a. Dequalinium hydrochloride (250mg) Lozenges
b. Domiphen bromide (0.5mg)
c. Hexetidine mouthwash/gargle, 0.1%
d. Menthol plus Eucalyptus Oil plus camphor plus Thymol (0.207% plus 0.069% plus
0.0007% respectively) lozenges
e. Menthol plus ascorbic acid plus hyrous citric acid (0.09% plus 2.9412% plus 0.8332%
respectively) Lozenges
16. Antacid Drugs
a. Magnesium trisilicate mixture – 100ml – 200ml
b. Magnesium triscilicate compound tablets
c. Aluminium hydroxide, mixture/tablets
17. Purgative Drugs
a. Magnesium hydroxide mixture
(Hydrated magnesium oxide, 550mg/10ml)
b. Magnesium Sulphate – Granules/Sachets/Mixture
Granules/Sachet, 5g, Mixture, 4g/10ml
c. Senna – Granules/Tablets
18. Antidiarrhoeal Drugs
a. Oral rehydration salts
19. Contraceptives
a. Condoms
b. Foaming Tablets
20. Vitamins, Minerals and Nutritional
a. Ascorbic acid (Vitamic C) – Tablets, 100mg
Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) Syrup 100mg per 5ml
b. B Complex Vitamins – Capsules/Tablets/Syrup
c. Cod Liver Oil – Capsules/Syrup
d. Multivitamins – Capsules/Tablets/Syrup/Drops
e. Calcium Salts
i. Calcium gluconate – Tablets, Tablets, 600mg
ii. Calcium lactate – tablets, 300mg
f. Folic acid, Tablet, 5mg
g. Glucose – powder for oral use
21. Dressings
a. Absorbent Gauze
b. Cotton/Crepe bandages
c. Cotton Wool
d. Elastic Plaster Dressings
22. Cold
a. Chlorpheniramine Maleate – Tablet, 4mg/10s
b. Syrup – 2mg per 5ml
23. Cough
Diphenhydramine Preparations


Understanding the regulations for patent medicine vendors provides you with the information to negotiate partnerships with those in your locality. You may choose to help them meet the regulations and formally register.  Offer to train them and provide information on how to handle common cases they see. Chemists already have some knowledge and refer people when they are not capable. You can provide a solid referral pathway for them via your partnership. Gaining initial trust can be tricky, overcome this by actively sending patients to them that fall within their remit especially if it’s something that is low margin to you. You, of course, would have already given them some training on how to handle these cases.

An example could be sale and administration of simple dressings or contraceptives. Direct patients who you think would qualify and live close to a chemist to go there in the first instance. Print out a card with a phone number and directions if you must. Doing this will build trust and confidence with the chemist who will be more willing to stick to his area and similarly refer patients to you. This is only one example of many more opportunities that can create a symbiotic relationship between chemists and pharmacists. This arrangement could work so well that the chemist could go on to be a satellite location for your pharmacy.

Explore setting up this collaboration. It would be more rewarding than constantly fighting to have chemists closed down. Our patients will thank us and patronize health services more when we all collaborate.


Reference – PCN

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