Reports have it that while 30 percent of drugs used in Nigeria are locally manufactured, 70 percent are imported from China and India. Studies have also revealed that many African countries, including Nigeria, spend not less than $14 billion on importation of pharmaceutical products. However, there is the imperative of national drug security, established in the National Drug Policy, for availability and sufficient supply of affordable and quality drugs for Nigerians. Also, for stimulation of increased local production.
The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 focuses on good health and wellbeing targeted to Universal Health Coverage (UHC), access to safe, effective, affordable and quality medicines for everyone, and access to quality essential health services. Despite the SDG in place, there was a case of non-availability of drug and medical devices at the State House Medical Centre, Abuja. A report from the Federal Ministry of Health affirmed that drugs prescribed for diabetes or cancer, costs almost five times the monthly wage of a minimum wage worker.
Building an agile supply chain of essential drugs require local production.
Dr. Fidelis Ayebae, Chairman of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMGMAN), stated that with the help from state governments and development partners after the pandemic to aid post-COVID 19 recovery, production of drug locally has now risen to 45 percent. he added that to build a resilient and agile supply chain of required medicines in the country, the main strategy is to produce them locally. As a result, it aligns with Medicines Security (MS) goal and becomes a sustainable strategy.
CEO and Managing Director of Fidson Healthcare Plc., Ayebae, further stated that through Public Private Partnership (PPP) – African Resource Centre for Excellence (ARC-ESM) and Melinda Gate foundation support – the local pharmaceutical industry is working towards bridging the gap in supply chains of medicines at state level. With these partnerships in states like Nasarawa, Kaduna, Ekiti, Niger, Sokoto and Yobe, there is now a reduction of out of stock to an insignificant number. He believes that this move will birth economic development for Nigeria and capacity building for the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry.
Local production would aid compliance with the rules of GMP.
National Chairman of Clinical Pharmacists Association of Nigeria (CPAN), Dr. Joseph Madu, asserted that some of the factors that make companies prefer importation to local production include lack of patronage of local companies by donor agencies and governments, high tariffs, high costs of production, and high taxation coupled with trade-related barriers on importation of APIs. He also highlighted poverty and lack of education as reasons why Nigerians get cheap imported drugs from traders instead of quality drugs from registered pharmacies – which may be more expensive.
According to the Chairman, if production of medicines occur domestically, regulatory agencies can regularly visit the manufacturing companies to mandate compliance with the rules of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) for production of medicines, which cannot be done to imported drugs. He further highlighted the hazards attached to dependence on importation which include less capacity to create jobs and economic development opportunities, lack of national pride as a production country, lack of sustainable access to quality medicines and loss of revenue.
Compliance with legislative policies of government assures drug security.
Acting Director General of NAFDAC, Dr. Monica Elimunjeze, affirmed that the agency sees the need for drug security and would not cease to strengthen its regulatory processes with a functional regulatory framework. According to NAFDAC, development of products before distribution to patients require clinical trial oversight, ports inspection, chemical evaluation, GMP inspection, laboratory analysis, narcotic control, pharmacovigilance, registration, investigation and enforcement. With these processes in place, drug security is assured as there will be compliance with legislative provisions and policies of government.