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:
- A pharmacy requires the service of a pharmacist at all times but a drug store does not require the service of a pharmacist.
- A drug store has limitations on the kind of medicines to stock. Drug stores are only permitted to stock “over-the-counter” medications.
- 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.
- 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
- Get a suitable location
- Apply to pharmacy council for licence
- Prepare for first inspection by Pharmacy council
- Examination/interview after passing the first inspection
- Second inspection by pharmacy council
- 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
- 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).
- Your proposed location should not be less than 1km away from the nearest pharmacy or drugstore.
- The population of the area to be served will also be considered.
- Your location should be easily accessible to the general public.
- If you are going to site your drug store in a storey building, it should preferably be sited on the ground floor.
- 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:
|Greater Accra||(+233) 0302681929, 0302680150||The Regional Manager Pharmacy Council Kwame Nkrumah Avenue Near Adjabeng Court P.O. Box AN 10344 , Accra-North|
|Eastern Region||(+233) 03420 23205||The Regional Manager Pharmacy Council 2 nd Floor SIC Office Complex P.O. Box KF 2228, Koforidua|
|Volta Region||(+233) 0362026324||The Regional Manager Pharmacy Council Old School of Hygiene P.O. Box HP 1266, Ho|
|Central Region||(+233) 0332133233||The Regional Manager Pharmacy Council SIC Building Complex P.O. Box CC 1339, Cape Coast|
|Western Region||(+233) 0312046391||The Regional Manager Pharmacy Council Regional Health Administration P.O. Box 1261, Takoradi|
|Ashanti Region||(+233) 0322031636, 0322041455||The Regional Manager Pharmacy Council Regional Health Administration P.O. Box KS 778, Kumasi|
|Brong Ahafo Region||(+233) 0352026551, 035226490||The Regional Manager Pharmacy Council Near PWD P.O. Box 744, Sunyani|
|Northern Region||(+233) 0372023061||The Manager Pharmacy Council Tamale Old Hospital P.O. Box TL 1777, Tamale|
|Upper East Region||(+233) 0382029208||The Regional Manager Pharmacy Council Services Building P.O. Box BG 869, Bolgatanga|
|Upper West Region||(+233) 0392022842||The 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.
- You need to attach certified true copies of certificates of your educational qualification
- 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.
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
- The licence can only be used by the person it was licensed for (licensee)
- You can only use the licence to operate at the location you specified in your application
- You cannot sell any other forms of medicines except licensed over-the-counter medications
- 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;
- You must be a citizen of Ghana
- You must be a person of good character
- You must be declared medically and mentally fit
- You must have an academic qualification of at least GCE O’Level, SSS certificate, WASSCE certificate or its equivalent
- You should not be a recognized prescriber as defined by the Health Professions Regulatory Bodies Act, 2013 (Act 857)
- 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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