Drug manufacturers task FG on local patronage, N200b intervention fund

Director-General of NAFDAC, Paul Orhii

Director-General of NAFDAC, Paul Orhii

CITING the milestones homegrown companies have achieved lately, manufacturers of pharmaceutical products yesterday urged the Federal Government (FG) to insist on local patronage of drugs and other items that are now produced in the country.

The manufacturers, under the aegis of Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN), said the call was in line with relevant industrial policies and quest for global competitiveness in the sector.

The manufacturers and other stakeholders, who met at the opening of third Nigeria pharma manufactures’ exhibition 2015 in Ikeja, Lagos on Monday, also said that it was high time the Federal Government allotted a N200 billion intervention fund for the pharma sector, coupled with other initiatives to help the sector maximize its potentials.

Among those who made case for the sector are the Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Linus Awute; National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Director General, Dr. Paul Orhii; Chairman PMG-MAN, Okey Akpa; President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Olumide Akintayo and President of West African Manufacturers Organisation, Bunmi Olaopa, representatives of India and Chinese companies.

Chairman of the PMG-MAN, Akpa, said with the recent milestones recorded by companies in the sector, the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry was already positioned to operate at the global level, should government assent to their demands.

With delight, Akpa told the gathering that Nigeria is currently the biggest pharmaceutical manufacturing country in West Africa, accounting for more than 65 per cent of local manufacturing of medicines that are relevant to the region.

Among the drugs are antimalarial medicines, antiretrovirals, herbal medicines and medicines for sickle cell diseases.   To make impact on the global stage, he said several manufacturers had processed Expression of Interest (EoI) with the World Health Organisation (WHO) for pre-qualification of products, with cummulative investment worth of over $50 million in the last five years for facility upgrading.

Akpa noted that while four companies had been certified by the WHO, at least 10 local companies had also complied with the requirements of International Standards Organisation and already supply drugs to the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women’s Children’s Health (UNCoLs).

He said while several of the achievements had been by individual manufacturers’ investment and years of hard work, the government and other stakeholders have to do more.

According to him, “without doubt, patronage of Nigerian pharmaceutical manufacturers by government, donors and international procuring agencies is critical and must be backed by political will.

We are therefore calling on the Federal Government to implement the Domestic Preference Policy of the Public Procurement Act 2007 as well as the implementation of the Presidential Directive on Patronage of Nigerian Manufacturers,” he said.

To enable the policy, the chairman recommended “an import adjustment tax of 20 per cent on imported finished pharmaceutical products of HS Codes 3003 & 3004 should be imposed immediately as applied to other sectors where Nigeria has capacity as allowed by the Common External Tariff of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).”   “Input into pharmaceutical manufacturing (raw materials, excipients and packaging) should be allowed to be imported at zero per cent by bonafide pharmaceutical manufacturers,” he said.

Orhii, who was the chairman of the occasion, commended the manufacturers for the feat so far achieved, adding that NAFDAC would continue to collaborate with them and rid the Nigerian market of fake products.

Orhii appealed to the FG and Bank of Industry to revisit an earlier proposal for N200 billion intervention trust fund for the pharma manufacturer. He recalled that the proposal was considered by the last administration but nothing was heard of it.

While he expressed delight that the National Drug Distribution Policy, which regulates drug distribution national wide, is due to take effect, Orhii expressed concerns that stakeholders have not done enough to put the necessary infrastructure in place.

In his goodwill message, Ambode, represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Primary Health care Board, Dr. Kayode Oguntimehin, identified with the manufacturers as a critical stakeholder to economic growth.

Ambode said while the Federal Government had begun to work on favourable environment and Lagos more accommodating through the Office of Overseas Investment, the manufacturers should also collaborate to enhance the fight against counterfeiting, intensify research and development and find solutions to health problems facing the public.

PSN President, Olumide Akintayo, said that beyond the provision of intervention fund, the government must critically look at the sector to help it maximise its potentials for the good of the country.

The three-day exhibition, with the theme: “The Nigerian pharmaceutical manufacturing industry and international competitiveness,” continues today.

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