Just as it is in other parts of the world, the history of pharmacy in Nigeria is old, though largely unrecorded. Medical knowledge was largely kept by traditional healers. Information on healing including the materials and the methodologies were passed down verbally from generations and sometimes lost due to death. It is only perhaps from the last half of the 19th century, with the introduction of Western education that some wise elders started dictating such knowledge to their younger ones for posterity.
Before the advent of the early European missionaries, the major source of healing the sick was through the traditional healers, who used clay, plants and animal parts, or supernatural means (or combinations thereof) to bring about healing to their patients.
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This era covers the period from the late 19th century to the first few decades of the 20th century. Pharmacy education during this period started with training of Nigerians in dispensing through apprenticeship under physicians, to prepare simple solutions and mixtures and subsequently either serving as dispensers in the hospitals or opening medicine shops to serve Nigerian community. An example of such early shops was that of Mr Richard Zaccheus Bailey, which was opened in 1887 along Balogun Street in Lagos.
Later on experienced dispensers and reputed pharmaceutical companies were allowed to train others. Again, Mr Bailey was an example of such early trainer of dispensers. With time, apprenticeship training in hospitals under physicians became more formal and regular. By the beginning of the 3rd decade of the 20th century (i.e the 1920’s), it became clear that the apprenticeship programme could no longer meet the need for pharmacy services in Nigeria, and preparations were made through legislation to open school of pharmacy for training of dispensers. This plan materialized through the establishment of a School of Pharmacy at Yaba, Lagos for the purpose in 1925.
A clear majority of the “pharmacists” in the early part of this era were actually “dispensers”. The hospitals or dispensaries were managed under the supervision of the medical officers in charge of such hospitals or dispensaries. There were only four hospitals in Nigeria as at 1900. These hospitals were located in Lagos, Asaba, Abeokuta and Calabar, three of which were government hospitals and one, a mission (Catholic) hospital. These hospitals used a common hospital formulary. There were also a number of mission medical set-ups before this date in some coastal towns, which could not be described as hospitals. However, there was a steady growth in the number of hospitals both government and mission between 1900 -1960.
In community practice, the first medicine shop was opened in 1887 by Mr Richard Zaccheus Bailey in present-day Balogun Street of Lagos State. It was primarily to cater for his European clients and a few African elites. Other retail pharmacies did not come into existence until the 1920’s and much later. The West African Drug Company Ltd was established in 1924, while commercial Medicine stores (by Chief S. T. Hunponu-Wusu and Mr Robert Olatunji Adebowale) and Phillips Medicine Stores (by Thomas King Ekundayo Phillips) were established in the 1940’s all in Lagos. Several years went by before retail pharmacies were opened in the towns of the old Western, Eastern and Northern regions of Nigeria. By the end of 1960, as many as 150 community pharmacy shops had been established while a total number of registered pharmacists (many of who were not in community or general pharmacy practice) was 542.
Industrial pharmacy was evident with the arrival of May and Baker in 1944, Glaxo and Pfizer in 1954. These pharmaceutical companies were mainly into importation and marketing of pharmaceuticals. Large-scale drug production began in the 60s involving government agencies, multinational companies and private entrepreneurs. Presently, there are more than 115 registered pharmaceutical manufacturers in Nigeria. These companies manufacture various pharmaceutical dosage forms cutting across various therapeutic classes. In addition to providing dependable high-quality pharmaceutical products to medical professionals and patients in various communities in Nigeria and West Africa, they have also contributed greatly to the economic growth of the nation.
Mr Richard Zaccheus Bailey, popularly known as the doctor was the first man to open a pharmacy in Nigeria in the year 1887 along Balogun Street, Lagos having obtained a license from the Governor-in-Council to do so. He also trained many dispensers – Alfred Philip, Julius Apena, Nelson Cole, S. R. Macauley, Moses Da-Roche and John Caulcrick, all of who later trained as physicians.
According to official records, Mr Emmanuel Caulcrick was the first registered Nigerian pharmacist. He was registered on the 1st September 1902. He later opened a medicine store in Lagos.
Thomas King Ekundayo Phillips was born in 1884 to the Bishop and Mrs Charles Phillips. He attended the Government Training School for Dispensers, where he trained and qualified as a Chemist and druggist. Thomas King Ekundayo Phillips opened a chemist store – Philips Medicine Store in Faji Market, presently Tinubu Square in Lagos State. He subsequently trained as an optician. He was also the first president of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) (1947 – 1951).
HRH. Oba John Adetoyese Laoye was born in 1899. He trained as a dispenser through hospital apprenticeship that he competed in 1917. He served as a government dispenser in many towns in Nigeria including Kano, Kaduna, Jos, Ibadan, Akure, Sapele, Maiduguri, Benin, Warri and Forcados. He was enthroned in 1946. He was a founding father of the Nigerian Western House of Chiefs (1952).
Sir kofo Abayomi was one of the early dispensers, who trained through apprenticeship. He served in several hospitals. He was also enlisted in the army as a sergeant dispenser during the First World War where he gained valuable experience with and worked under some European pharmacists and Physicians.
Prof. Dr Cletus Nzebunwa Aguwa was the first academic clinical pharmacist to be employed in Nigeria. He was also the first professor of clinical pharmacy in the entire black Africa.
Others notable pharmacists who are qualified to be numbered include, Chief S. T. Hunponu-Wusu, Mr. Azariah Olusegun Ransome-Kuti, , Mr Robert Olatunji Adebowale, Mr. Afolabi, I. Kinoshi, Mr. Peter Etim Archibong, Mr. D. A. Pratt, Dr. Gordon Taylor, Mr. J. P Marquis, Pa Peter Omar Ishaku, Ahaji Adamu Bako Dikko, Chief (Mrs.) Ekanem Bassey Ikpeme etc.
Pharmacy education in Nigeria passed through five developmental stages viz:
Pharmacy profession offers quite a lot of career opportunities and they include:
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Pharmacy is a professional course that deals directly with humans and is thus governed by rules and ethical codes that should at all times be strictly adhered to. His professional responsibility is shown towards patients, his colleagues, his community and also to himself.
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