President Bola Tinubu has instructed the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Lateef Fagbemi, to develop an executive decree aimed at controlling the cost of pharmaceutical products. The goal is to enhance accessibility to essential medicines for the general public. This was revealed by Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Ali Pate, during a gathering of pharmaceutical stakeholders in Lagos. Pate seized the opportunity to shed light on various concerns and engage in detailed discussions regarding the industry. According to the Federation of Nigeria Pharmaceutical Industry Associations (FeNPIA), the growth of the pharmaceutical industry is hindered by various obstacles. Nigeria’s pharmaceutical sector heavily relies on imports for both production inputs and finished products. Consequently, the fluctuating Foreign Exchange rate determines the final pricing of these products.
Despite their understanding of the country’s monetary exchange system, they firmly advise offering the pharmaceutical industry exclusive access to forex at favourable rates to stabilize the prices of essential healthcare commodities like medicine. NAFDAC is diligently collaborating with the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry to enhance local production and establish its prominence on an international scale. Sufficient and ongoing support for the agency is encouraged to ensure its successful collaboration with the industry’s key stakeholders. A coordinated and strategic procurement process is suggested as an effective means to enhance the availability of high-quality and safe medicines throughout the healthcare system. This could be achieved through pooled procurement or public-private partnerships within the medicine supply chain, similar to the existing collaborations between some states and the pharmaceutical industry.
A ₦600 billion Development Fund should be established.
To fulfil the Universal Health Coverage in accordance with the NHIA Act 2022, it is crucial to establish a robust alliance between the National Health Insurance Authority, domestic producers, and international distributors/importers of pharmaceutical products. The Nigerian Central Bank or Bank of Industry should establish a Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Development Fund worth ₦600 billion. This fund will offer loans at a low interest rate of five percent for a period of seven to ten years. Its primary objective is to provide financial support to the Pharma Manufacturing Value Chain, APIs, Critical Supply Chain Interventions and Vaccines. The establishment of this fund will propel Nigeria’s transformation into a prominent centre for the pharmaceutical industry in Africa. The advantages span across multiple sectors, including healthcare, employment, foreign exchange earnings, contributions to GDP, and funding advancements in pharmaceutical manufacturing, research, and development.
Pate emphasized the government’s dedication to reducing the financial strain of pharmaceutical products, specifically for the most underprivileged Nigerians. He recognized the obstacles encountered by the pharmaceutical industry, such as importing Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs). He assured the public that the government was actively working on broadening the origins of APIs and implementing strict regulations to ensure the excellence and security of domestically manufactured drugs. According to his statement, the escalation in the expense of medication is a significant concern that troubles every governing body member. The problem at hand is not solely limited to Nigeria’s borders; it transcends continents and affects the entire world. Within the space of governance, their utmost attention lies in devising effective measures to alleviate the strain on Nigeria, particularly for those living in poverty and individuals most susceptible to hardships.
Other participants are expected to join the local industries.
The consultation was immensely productive, yielding fruitful outcomes. The pharmaceutical sector boasts a remarkably dynamic local manufacturing industry with a growing number of entities expressing interest in contributing to the country’s economy. Over the past three months, no less than three major players have been studying the prospects of establishing manufacturing operations in Nigeria. It is their fervent hope that numerous other participants will join in, igniting the thriving growth of local industries. Despite the challenges, a steadfast faith exists that Nigeria will overcome these testing times and emerge stronger. The unwavering confidence lies in the industry’s ability to endure the ongoing hardships. This government pays heed to the worries expressed by its people, truly embodying a receptive nature. Proactive steps are being taken to lighten the load and alleviate the burdens faced.
Also, the persistent problem of imported APIs has persisted for several decades without showing signs of resolution in the past several months. However, there is now a growing effort to address this matter. Recognizing that certain developed nations heavily rely on APIs from only a few countries, Nigeria is actively exploring strategies to enhance the variety of API sources. This transformation will inevitably require a considerable amount of time to manifest. It is impossible to resolve decades-long issues within a single year. However, due to their unwavering dedication, the President has instructed them to foster private sector involvement, ensuring that Nigerians receive their requirements and guaranteeing regulatory standards that guarantee the quality and safety of domestically produced goods.
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Therefore, their dedication to this cause remains unwavering, and this interactive platform served as an excellent initial step. Moreover, it will not end here. Unprecedentedly, the government and pharmaceutical sector have engaged in such a dialogue, with the former considering and implementing valuable recommendations for necessary actions. He assured Nigeria that President Tinubu was attentive and cared about matters impacting the well-being of its people. They are devoted to achieving success in collaborative efforts between the public and private domains. The overall economic condition of this nation has encountered difficulties, an ongoing predicament spanning numerous years. Their focus is on finding a way to reverse the situation.