How To Open A Drug Store (Licensed Chemical Shop) in Ghana

What is a drug store?

A drug store basically refers to any shop that is specifically used for the sales of medicines, health products and cosmetics. That is to say, any store where you can get medicines and health products to buy can be referred to as being a drug store. However, this term may refer to different things to different people. 

Recently, the pharmacy council of Ghana has addressed drug stores or licensed Chemical Shops as Over-the-counter Medicine Stores. Hence the licence required to operate such a store is called the Over-the-counter Medicines Practitioner’s Licence (OTCMSL).

Such a licence therefore permits the owner to offer to the public on sale various over-the-counter medications also known as class C medicines.

Is a drug store the same as a pharmacy?

In Ghana, the term drug store is normally used to refer to what is technically known as Licensed Chemical shops. This means a drug store means a different thing from a pharmacy in Ghana. 

The basic differences between a drug store or licensed chemical shop and a pharmacy are:

  1. A pharmacy requires the service of a pharmacist at all times but a drug store does not require the service of a pharmacist.
  2. A drug store has limitations on the kind of medicines to stock. Drug stores are only permitted to stock “over-the-counter” medications.
  3. Pharmacies can be established almost anywhere in Ghana provided it is in line with the pharmacy council’s regulations while a drug store is only permitted at places without pharmacies.
  4. The cost of setting up a pharmacy is way higher than what is involved in setting up a drug store.

If your interest is in establishing a Pharmacy and not a drug store (Over-the-counter medicines store), then check this post out: How to establish or register a new pharmacy in Ghana

Steps to start a drug store in Ghana

  1. Get a suitable location
  2. Apply to pharmacy council for licence
  3. Prepare for first inspection by Pharmacy council
  4. Examination/interview after passing the first inspection
  5. Second inspection by pharmacy council
  6. Issue of license to operate

Let us now take a deep dive into the various steps required to open a drug store in Ghana.

Get a suitable location

The first thing you need to do when you get an idea to start your own drug store is to look for a suitable location to site your drug store. The Pharmacy Council of Ghana has some regulations concerning the locations that they may approve or disapprove for such a licence.

Regulations on location

  1. The area you want to set up your drug store should not be a place with sufficient pharmaceutical facilities (including pharmacies and other drug stores).
  2. Your proposed location should not be less than 1km away from the nearest pharmacy or drugstore.
  3. The population of the area to be served will also be considered.
  4. Your location should be easily accessible to the general public.
  5. If you are going to site your drug store in a storey building, it should preferably be sited on the ground floor.
  6. The proposed structure should be a permanent structure

Apply to pharmacy council

Once you are settled on the location you want to use for your drug store and it meets the criteria stated above, you are good to start putting in your application. 

Previously, you could only pick the application form from any of the Pharmacy Council’s offices. Now, the application forms are available online.

You can therefore download a copy of the application form and fill it out. Use the link below to download the forms:  Ghana OTCMSL application form 

You also have to download the cover page of the forms here: OTCMSL Forms Cover page

Print the forms and cover page out and fill them appropriately.

The application form is divided into different parts:

  • Personal data
  • Location details
  • Referee’s declaration

You are to fill in those relevant details, then sketch your location. Finally, you will need a referee to certify your forms. According to the Pharmacy council, the referee should be:

  • A Pharmacist 
  • A Senior Civil or Public Officer not below the rank of a Principal Executive Officer 
  • A Senior Medical Officer or 
  • A Leader of a recognised religious body

After filling the necessary fields in the form, you have to submit it to the regional pharmacy council office in the very region you want to establish your drug store.

Below are the contact details of the various Regional Pharmacy Council offices:

REGION CONTACT LOCATION/ADDRESS
Greater Accra(+233) 0302681929, 0302680150The Regional Manager Pharmacy Council Kwame Nkrumah Avenue Near Adjabeng Court P.O. Box AN 10344 , Accra-North
Eastern Region(+233) 03420 23205The Regional Manager Pharmacy Council 2 nd Floor SIC Office Complex P.O. Box KF 2228, Koforidua
Volta Region(+233) 0362026324The Regional Manager Pharmacy Council Old School of Hygiene P.O. Box HP 1266, Ho
Central Region(+233) 0332133233The Regional Manager Pharmacy Council SIC Building Complex P.O. Box CC 1339, Cape Coast
Western Region(+233) 0312046391The Regional Manager Pharmacy Council Regional Health Administration P.O. Box 1261, Takoradi 
Ashanti Region(+233) 0322031636, 0322041455The Regional Manager Pharmacy Council Regional Health Administration P.O. Box KS 778, Kumasi
Brong Ahafo Region(+233) 0352026551, 035226490The Regional Manager Pharmacy Council Near PWD P.O. Box 744, Sunyani
Northern Region (+233) 0372023061The Manager Pharmacy Council Tamale Old Hospital P.O. Box TL 1777, Tamale
Upper East Region (+233) 0382029208The Regional Manager Pharmacy Council Services Building P.O. Box BG 869, Bolgatanga
Upper West Region(+233) 0392022842The Regional Manager Pharmacy Council 2 nd Floor, C&AG Block P.O. Box 179, Wa

The application process involves the payment of a non refundable processing fee which is to be determined by the council. 

Prepare for the first inspection by Pharmacy council

After the council has gotten your application, they will revert to you and give you a specific date that they will be coming for their first visit.

On their first inspection, the delegates (inspectors) from the pharmacy council are interested in whether your location meets the criteria stated earlier. This means they are interested in 

  • whether your site is a minimum of 1km from other pharmacies or drug stores.
  • Whether your location is accessible to the public
  • Whether your proposed structure is a permanent structure or not 

And other related things.

Examination/interview if you pass the first inspection

Successful applicants after going through the first inspection will be informed about their success and scheduled for an examination or interview. Unsuccessful applicants will also be served a notice stating why they didn’t qualify for it.

The interview or examination for the Over-the-counter medicines seller’s licence is basically to test the competencies of the individual applying and to make sure that they are capable of handling a drug store.

It is highly recommended that applicants have a bit of knowledge about over the counter medicines. This can be achieved by understudying another over-the-counter medicines seller for a short period or undertaking a course on sales of over-the-counter medicines.

Second inspection by pharmacy council

After passing the interview or examination, the Pharmacy council will pay you another visit with prior notice. This time round, they will be interested in the store itself, the internal decoration and the likes.

However, up to this time, it is not recommended for you to stock any form of medicines. You can only start stocking medicines when you finally receive your license.

After the second inspection, you will be duly informed as to when to stock your store with medicines. The final inspection will then take place where you will be handed your license for operation.

Note that the licence issued to over-the-counter medicine sellers have a number of limitations.

What documents are required during the application process?

You are required as part of the application process to attach the following documents to your applications forms when submitting it. 

  1. You need to attach certified true copies of certificates of your educational qualification
  2. A statutory declaration indicating your nationality, age, place of birth, names of parents, residential address, qualification, work experience, and evidence that the applicant has no criminal record.

Note

Any false declaration in the application or the attached documents renders the application invalid and shall lead to the rejection of the application.

Incomplete application forms shall be rejected. 

Then also, submission of all required documents does not mean you get automatic approval for the licence.

Limitations associated with the Over-the-counter medicine sellers licence

  1. The licence can only be used by the person it was licensed for (licensee)
  2. You can only use the licence to operate at the location you specified in your application
  3. You cannot sell any other forms of medicines except licensed over-the-counter medications
  4. You can only offer retail services with the licence

Who can apply for this license?

According to the pharmacy council of Ghana, you need to meet the following criteria before you can apply for the over-the-counter medicines seller’s licence;

  1. You must be a citizen of Ghana
  2. You must be a person of good character
  3. You must be declared medically and mentally fit
  4. You must have an academic qualification of at least GCE O’Level, SSS certificate, WASSCE certificate or its equivalent
  5. You should not be a recognized prescriber as defined by the Health Professions Regulatory Bodies Act, 2013 (Act 857)
  6. You must not be an individual in active employment

Do you need a pharmacist’s licence to start a drug store?

You don’t need a pharmacist’s licence to start a drug store (over-the-counter medicine store or licensed chemical store). That is one of the differences between a pharmacy and a licensed chemical store. 

You will need a pharmacist and for that matter the licence of a pharmacist in order to establish a pharmacy but that does not apply to a chemical shop or drug store. 

Do you require a certain academic qualification to get approved for a drug store licence?

The minimum academic qualification required is an SHS graduate certificate (SSCE or WASSCE or GCE O’Level). This means that you cannot apply for this licence if you haven’t or didn’t complete senior high school.

However, people with other academic qualifications like undergraduate or postgraduate degrees are qualified to apply provided they meet the other criteria stated earlier.

How much does it cost to get a chemical licence in Ghana 

To get the licence, the main fee you are required to pay is the application processing fee. This fee is subject to change by the Pharmacy Council of Ghana. The current value is around GH₵500.00 and is non-refundable.

You are required to make payment of this processing fee and attach receipts of payment when you are finally submitting your application forms with all other necessary documents.

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WRITTEN AND EDITED RESPECTIVELY BY:

Dr. Ehoneah Obed is a registered pharmacist and a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana. He has a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and has experience working in a Tertiary hospital as well as various community pharmacies. He is also a software engineer interested in healthcare technologies.

His love for helping others motivates him to create content on an array of topics mostly relating to the health of people and also software engineering content.

He is knowledgeable in digital marketing, content marketing, and a host of other skills that make him versatile enough to uplift any team he joins.

Chief Editor at Wapomu.com

MPSGH, MRPharmS, MPhil.

Isaiah Amoo is a practicing community pharmacist in good standing with the Pharmacy Council of Ghana who has meaningful experience in academia and industrial pharmacy. He is a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, England, UK and currently pursuing his overseas pharmacy assessment programme (MSc) at Aston University, UK. He had his MPhil degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. He has about 5 years’ experience as a community Pharmacist and has also taught in academic institutions like KNUST, Kumasi Technical University, Royal Ann College of Health, and G-Health Consult. He likes to spend time reading medical research articles and loves sharing his knowledge with others.

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84 Comments

  • Good afternoon
    I would like to know when they will conduct training for the new applicants for the chemical shop

    • You need to visit the pharmacy council office in the region you are. The secretary will provide you with a form to fill and if you meet the requirements, you will pay an application fee and your documents processed.

    • Hello sir … have a degree in chemistry can I open a chemist shop or I need a license from a pharmacist before I can

    • Please am interested in opening a drug store business, anyone to help acquire the license??

      0504901181

  • Thank you very much for the information about this business. I’m planning of starting one, Pls with a suitable building already secured will Gh 25000 be enough to start.

    • That should be enough to start depending on the number and brands of drugs you plan to stock

      • Please when am I supposed to pay my (otcms)drugs store license renewal fee and please how much are we supposed to pay this year 2022

      • Hello ,please can an OTCMS also engage in other services like diagnostic test like : malaria rapid test, typhoid rapid test,B.P, Blood sugar test

  • Also Please is it a compulsory requirement to have a washroom within the same OTC building / shop or u can hv the washroom in a very close proximity not necessarily in the same building

    • The washroom should preferably be part of the building but if it is in close proximity the pharmacy council may accept it. What matters most is how easily your staff can access it.

  • My wife is a nurse and have Medicine counter assistant certificate as well we are opening a drug store and we want to know if we can creat me something that matches health and beauty business ,fun , and originality and professional touch wen brainstorming for the business name

    • Yes you can. When it comes to registering a business name, you have to do it at the Registrar General’s Department. Once it is approved by them you can submit it to the Pharmacy Council

  • I want to know how and where to report someone operating a drug store without a license in my area? Am in the Oti region.

  • Thank you, Mr. Amoo. God Bless you for sharing this knowledge.
    But I want to find out which school or organization have the accreditation to provide training and issue a certificate for Medicine Counter Assistant, and is it a strict requirement to work at a drug store?
    Thank you

  • Please is 500.00 the only money to pay for the processing and the license or thier other charges

    • You can look out for people with Medicine Counter Assistantship certificate or Health Assistantship certificates since these people have basic knowledge of running your chemical shop.

    • A nurse is not trained in the direct sales of medicines so might require more training in that field. A nurse can own a chemical shop but may require assistance in operating it. You just need to get approval from the pharmacy council first.

      • Isaiah thank God i met u here this is Mr KOFIE (ASPEE PHARM LTD) a friend wants to open a drug store and wants help

      • Mr Isaiah, pls I need your contact urgently for a very important inquiries. My contact is 0244189499. You may drop yours for me so that I can reach out to you. Nipa nua ni nipa

  • 1) Sir is the embargo on drug store licensing lifted?
    2) I’m a PA in active service can I operate a drug store?

    • YES, you are eligible to operate a drug store. We will get more information about the embargo and update you.

    • Yes, currently, anyone with enough resources can own a pharmacy. You just need to employ the services and licence of a pharmacist before your application can be approved.

  • I am in an active employment and want to establish a drug store but not operate it by myself.
    Is this permissible?
    Thank you

    • According to the law, the one whose name appear on the licence should be the one operating the chemical shop. However, you can employ the services of an MCA or other health assistants to be present when you are not available.

    • Please sir can a health care assistant with NVTI certificate operates a drug store

      • Healthcare assistants are not trained purposefully to operate a drug store so it would be better to have a Medicine counter assistant certificate or dispensing technician certificate to operate a drug store. However, a healthcare assistant can work in a drug store to assist these people.

    • Yes, a pharmacy technician can. You just need to go acquire the license to operate it.

  • But please sir can I acquire the license with my NVTI certificate and later employ an MCA to operate it then I will assist him/her or I should just use my wassce certificate to apply and also I heard that without an amount of 8,000 cedis you can’t get the license . I offered health care assistant but am not getting a job so I really want to venture into it. So please Sir I want to know more about it . Thank you

  • Please good evening. May I know the necessary things to do in advance before the lifting of the ban? Thanks

  • Please is it allowed to operate in a drug store within the same district you applied with but different location. Let’s say you have acquired a license to operate in Dome, Ga East but uve moved from there and currently staying at Taifa, Ga East, so will want to move your shop there. Is it allowed because it’s in the same district or it’s not because of the different locations.

  • I want to study medicine counter assistant..can I open my own pharmacy after the course? And please much will it cost me ?

  • Good morning council, it has been my outmost thought of acquiring a licensing so that i can help and make a living as well. But lately, to get the licensing is not a problem but the money that is been collected is hearting breaking. Council, it is clearly stated that one needs to pay 500 cedis and I stand to be corrected. The council in my region takes as much as 6000-7000 Gh cedis before some is given a temporal certificate. Money paid without receipt is uncountable please help from northern Ghana.

  • Please can someone enlighten me on the reason why there has been an embargo on the issuing of licensing at the moment? I want to know so that I may get a little insight as to whether it can be lifted soon or not. If not soon, then perhaps I have to look for other alternative means of livelihood. I’m in the Volta region. Anyone with an idea so kindly come to my help 0244189499. If you are already in the business and have something to discuss with me in this regard, kindly get in touch. I needed this license badly

  • Good morning comrades
    I’m a new person here, sorry if I violet any rules or regulations.
    I’m Mr. BISMARK GLUNDO NNAJARI. An undergraduate from the University of Education, Winneba

    I joined this platform for helps and clarification of things.
    I have an intention of setting up a pharmacy store (Drugs Store), which I have downloaded the forms and I’m on process fishing filling the forms.

    But, I definitely don’t know how to go by some certain things. Especially, where to submit the forms, the amount I will be pay for the submission and how will the whole things cost me as a student.

    I’m from OTI REGION, NKwanta North District, Damanko – Ogyiri. Specifically, there’s no any drugs store closed to us what to talk of the communities around us.
    Also, our population within the community and its environs is every huge. Over four thousand people within the whole electoral area with no drugs store.

    It’s a challenge for me to start something now for myself and the community as a whole.

    I need your support, helps and advices. I’m ever ready to take anyone advice and support

    BISMARK is my name
    0553266351

  • Sir pls I’ll like to know the amount of money it may cost me to open a licensed chemical shop.

  • Hello sir, can you please update us on whether the ban has been lifted or not. Thank you and waiting patiently for feedback.

  • Wanted to know if I have any authority to report some one trying to open a chemical shop very close to mine in a rural area

  • Good morning sir,
    Please I want to know if the ban on the chemical shop license is a national one because I was at the regional office at Ho and was told the ban has not been lifted but I called the national office and was told to bring my application form.

    I want to also ask if I can send my application direct to Accra without going through the regional office at Ho.

  • Please I have an MCA certificate and I want to open a Chemical store, please after reaching all the requirements, how long will it take to have my license?.

  • You will say it cheap and easy like that but people are paying 7000ghc for over the counter chemicals license.
    You may what up me on 0544405525

  • Please I just completed j.h.s and couldn’t further my education but I have work as drug store attendance for 1and half years and I want to open a drug store how do I go about it please help me

    • Are you registered as a Pharmacist in Ghana? Anyone, irrespective of qualification, is allowed to establish a pharmacy in Ghana. However, the service of a pharmacist is required at all times. Hence, if you are licensed as a pharmacist in Ghana, you can use your own license to establish the pharmacy.

  • Aside gh¢1000 to obtain the license,how much money is required to establish the OTC medicine store business please?

  • Please is it true that when renewing your OTCMS license, the pharmacy council keeps your original copy of the license for a while before giving it back to you?

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