Pharmaceutical companies support local production with N600bn intervention fund

Bisola David
Bisola David
Pharmaceutical companies support local production with N600bn intervention fund

A N600 billion Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Development Fund, with a five percent interest rate for a minimum seven to ten-year duration, is being proposed by the Federation of Nigerian Pharmaceutical Industry Associations.

During a forum organised by FeNPIA in honour of Prof. Muhammad Pate, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, the group made the call, as stated in a release on Monday.

The fund, according to the group, would assist with research and development, key supply chain interventions, vaccine production, and the local manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients.

The FeNPIA President, Dr. Okey Akpa, listed the numerous obstacles preventing the pharmaceutical sector in Nigeria from expanding during his remarks at the function.

According to Akpa, the fund will support the development of the regional pharmaceutical sector and lower the exorbitant price of medications, hence increasing drug availability, accessibility, and affordability for all Nigerians.

“With benefits ranging from healthcare to foreign earnings and contribution to gross domestic product and jobs, these monies would also fast-track Nigeria into being a natural hub for the pharma industry in Africa,” the president continued.

He called on the federal government to act swiftly to address the issues facing the pharmaceutical sector that are responsible for the current drug shortage and the ensuing exorbitant prices.

According to Akpa, these elements include, among other things, restrictions on foreign exchange, the requirement for a planned and strategic procurement procedure, and inconsistent and poorly implemented policies.

The Nigerian pharmaceutical industry is represented by the FeNPIA, an association that works to advance the sector’s expansion and sustainability while aiming to make Nigeria self-sufficient in the production of medical goods that meet international standards of quality.

After 51 years of operation, the British multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporation GlaxoSmithKline announced in 2023 that it would be leaving Nigeria. Meanwhile, plans to leave the nation were announced by other large pharmaceutical companies.

However, Akpa demanded a planned and strategic procurement procedure, citing the use of public-private partnerships or pooled procurement “as is being practised currently between some states and members of the pharmaceutical Industry” in the medication supply chain.

In an effort to spur industrial expansion, Akpa suggested a zero percent duty rate for regional producers of pharmaceutical machinery, equipment, and accessories.

In contrast to the recent push by the Nigeria Customs Service to impose VAT to some pharmaceutical raw materials and even some finished pharmaceutical items, raw materials for pharmaceutical products are supposed to be value-added tax free under current fiscal policy. In order to further lower the cost of pharmaceuticals, the high tariff on various inputs used in pharmaceutical manufacture needs to be quickly revised downward, he continued.

In response to their requests,  the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate, stated that the President was taking all necessary steps to guarantee the prosperity of the pharmaceutical business and that and the availability of safe and reasonably priced goods in Nigeria to enhance the health of its populace.

“The president has instructed the attorney general to draft an executive order after hearing from industry participants about what has to be done. You may be sure that President Tinubu is paying attention to Nigerians and is concerned about matters that impact their well-being. The poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians will receive assistance from the essential medications we have previously allocated funds for,” Pate promised.

Regarding drug prices, the minister stated that the lack of APIs has caused a global spike in pharmaceutical product costs in recent months. She went on to say, “As the Western world struggles to resolve their issues, we too are putting in place mechanisms to procure and also engage and profer solutions for the local manufacturers.

In response to pharmaceutical businesses leaving Nigeria, Pate reassured stakeholders that the country has a thriving domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing sector and emphasised that other international pharmaceutical companies have expressed interest in joining the Nigerian market.

“At least three significant companies have been investigating the possibility of coming to Nigeria to manufacture goods throughout the past three months. We really hope a lot more would do the same. Our community’s industry will prosper. Although it’s not easy right now, we have a great deal of confidence that the industry can overcome today’s challenges,” he continued.

The minister remarked, “We have a listening government and we are taking actions to see how we can reduce the burden,” in reference to the VAT on imported goods and raw materials. Our objective is to have our local manufacturers thrive.”

“As we look forward to a pharmaceutical industry that will make drugs available, accessible, and affordable, I appeal to the Federal Government to encourage the players in the industry by addressing these challenges highlighted so far, review obsolete laws that are hindering the growth of the industry, and invest in R&D, among others,” previously stated Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, the former minister of health.

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