The National Agency for Food & Drug Administration & Control (NAFDAC) has expressed strong support for the efforts by Sanofi, a multinational healthcare company, to manufacture some of its life-saving drugs locally.
The company, on Wednesday (November 27), signed an agreement with a Nigerian pharmaceutical manufacturing company, May and Baker, to produce a range of its drugs in the country.
Speaking at the contract signing ceremony in Lagos, the Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeyedescribed the occasion as a special day for Nigeria, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and all technical arms of PSN which have kept advocating for sourcing of Nigeria’s drug needs to be domiciled locally. She commended the two companies for taking the giant steps to provide made-in-Nigeria medicines that are of safe, effective and of high-quality standards.
The DG-NAFDAC, who was represented by the Director, Registration & Regulatory Directorate, Dr. Monica Eimunjeze, recalled that one of the plans of the Africa Union (AU) under the Lead Partnership for Africa’s Development, is a pharmaceutical manufacturing plan for Africa, to which Nigeria is a signatory. The plan recommends that Africa manufactures and produces medicines for Africa.
“NAFDAC is very proud when we stand with Sanofi, May&Baker, anyone or company that propagates high quality and safe medicines. We are even prouder when these medicines are manufactured in Nigeria. We expect to see more of this kind of partnership and more locally-manufactured medicines that meet global quality standards.“This partnership speaks to that because Sanofi will not allow its products to be manufactured in a factory that it does not feel comfortable that it has not met or attained the global standard,” the NAFDAC DG said.
The President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa who chaired the occasion, noted that Nigeria had since 1995 adopted a policy to manufacture at least 70% of its essential medicines locally. He commended Sanofi and May & Baker for taking the initiative and called on more companies to join the train.
“We should not deceive ourselves to think that we can have every product manufactured locally, we don’t have the technology, the capacity and the resources. But we can begin to do something and work towards the target set by stakeholders at a roundtable held last year that 50% of our essential medicines be produced locally by 2020”.
In her speech, the General Manager Rx and Country Chair Sanofi Nigeria-Ghana, Pharm Folake Odediran drew attention to the Federal Government’s policy to ensure national drug security through self-sufficiency in the supply of essential medicines.
“At Sanofi, we understand that local sourcing of essential medicines is central to achieving the government’s objectives. We remain committed to this noble aspiration. Today, the formal signing of a manufacturing agreement with May & Baker Nigeria Plc is proof of our commitment to localization. We will continue to contribute our quota towards availability of very efficacious, high-quality made-in-Nigeria medicines”
“Building a strategic partnership with May & Baker Nigeria Plc to support our local manufacturing ambitions is based on its (M&B) rich history of producing high-quality medicines in Nigeria. It also follows a rigorous due-diligence exercise and successful compliance outcomes in line with local laws and our global policies,” Odediran further explained.
Also speaking at the event, the Managing Director/CEO of May & Baker Nigeria Plc, Mr. Nnamdi Okafor described the event as a formal ceremony because the two companies had been working together for many years. “We began this collaboration with two products but today Sanofi has increased the number to five, an indication that the partnership is working. And I make bold to assure them they will be impressed enough to increase the basket of products to be manufactured by us,” he said.
Okafor said May & Baker now has the largest pharmaceutical facilities in the West African sub-region, the May & Baker Pharmacentre, which was commissioned in 2011 and GMP-certified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2014.
“It was an expensive and challenging project but looking at the industry today and the number of similar projects that dot the pharmaceutical manufacturing landscape, we feel justified for taking the bold step.
“The Centre offers other services such as product formulation and consultancy in quality assurance. The capacity of the Pharmacentre remains underutilized and our doors are open to accommodate other international brands that will like to heed the call for localization of production,” he further said.
The event was also attended by the President, Nigerian Representatives of Overseas Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (NIROPHARM), Mr. Femi Soremekun and the Executive Secretary, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN), Mr. Frank Muonemeh. Both men, who are association leaders in the pharmaceutical industry, independently expressed satisfaction that their commitment to local production of medicines in Nigeria has become a reality.
Other dignitaries at the event were Valeria Saviano, Director, Supply Chain Sanofi Africa, representatives of the Nigeria Customs Service and heads of pharmaceutical businesses in Nigeria.