I have been wondering for a long time why you would come to a very long road and see only two or three pharmacies but when you go to PCN to ask for location inspection, you will be told that there are more than five pharmacies on that road. I did not understand it until I was almost locked out by the practice and that was when I heard about perimeter fencing and the strategy is so simple but very effective in locking out new retail pharmacies from coming up in an area.
Here is how it works. Assuming two pharmacists own outlets on a street that can comfortably take five pharmacies, they will locate other sites along that street, register that site but without ever opening it. Because that site is now registered, it automatically locks out any other pharmacy that would want to open within two hundred metres to it.
What this means is that if I have a pharmacy at the beginning of a street and register another one that I do not intend to operate about three hundred metres from the first one, it means that no other pharmacy can register within five hundred metres from the premises I am operating. That way, when two pharmacists collude, they can use perimeter fencing which is the name it is known by, to lock out any other pharmacist who wants to open an outlet on that street.
For this to work, the fencing pharmacists become very active in ACPN and join in going for inspection. They will be the ones that will point out that a premises is at the point they used as the perimeter fencing point.
The second reason this is so effective is that they just register the place once and never reregister it again because they know that PCN rarely bothers to check on premises that are not renewed. This way, they may be using that fencing for years without any other premises ever opening on that street. Once in a while though, an inspector who does not know about it will register a new premises within the perimeter fenced area and the pharmacist with that perimeter fence will quickly get a register and go pharmacist to reregister the place for that year and with that he will kick out the new entrant and go back to his practice again.
Although I have pointed this out to PCN and funny enough, the day I was pointing it out, a young pharmacist walked in and wanted to understand why his place was not recommended despite the fact that there was no visible or registered pharmacy close to his location.
The pharmacy profession in Nigeria cannot move forward if practices like this are allowed to go on. This is also the key reason why only PCN staff should be allowed to go for inspection because that way, they will be working with the list of fully registered pharmacies and not that of perimeter fencing pharmacies.
photo credit www.cometonigeria.com