‘Why Nigerians should patronise locally made drugs’

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*Study shows home grown drugs are cheaper than imported versions
*FG pledges to buy indigenous brands, inaugurates committee on expedited medicines’ access programme

The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN) and a recent independent study have given more reasons why Nigerians should patronize locally made medicines.

Executive Secretary of PMG-MAN, Dr. Obi Adigwe, told The Guardian: “That the prices of most commodities in Nigeria have gone up is no longer news. Expectedly too, the prices of medicines needed to safeguard healthcare have also increased.”

Adigwe called on government and Nigerians at all levels to patronise made-in-Nigeria medicines, which have been certified by National Agency for Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and proven to match international quality standards.

Healthcare professionals have also advised the government to ensure that the Ministry of Health directs all government hospitals and agencies to show preference for medicines manufactured in Nigeria, which are more affordable, and are of high quality. Policy analysts and experts have indicated that based on the evidence, the Federal Ministry of Health should execute a medicines’ supply programme that would further bring down the cost of medicines and ensure availability of essential medicines at affordable prices.Also, a recent independent study has however revealed that high quality medicines, which are made in Nigeria, are still more affordable when compared to imported brands of the same medicines. Comparative price analysis of local and imported brands showed that for anti-diabetic drug with Glibenclamide 5mg tablet 10 x 10 as active ingredient, the imported brand Daonil sells at N3, 000 while the local version Glibenclamide goes for N900.

Septrin, which is the imported brand of Co-trimoxazole 480mg tablet 10 x 10 used for respiratory tract infection sells for N6, 000 while the local brand, Primprex, goes for N2, 500.

Flagyl, imported brand of Metronidazole 400mg tablet 10 x 10, antiprotozoal drug, sells at N2, 400 while the local brand, Loxagyl, goes for N500. Also, Co-Artem, imported Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT), anti-malarial drug containing Arthemeter plus Lumefantrine tablet x 6 sells for N1, 600 while the local brand, Arthemed, goes for N500.

Adigwe said this independent study’s findings clearly invalidate the argument that the 20 per cent Import Adjustment Tax has any influence on the affordability of medicines for the average Nigerian.

He said emerging evidence has further revealed that while the scarcity of foreign exchange (FOREX) had been identified as the cause of increase in prices of medicines, local manufacturers were still able to absorb some costs, thereby ensuring that made in Nigeria products were still affordable for patients. Adigwe, however, said importers of pharmaceutical products on the other hand, simply passed on the costs of FOREX and importation to the patients who were at high risk of discontinuing treatment when they are no longer able to afford the high cost of drugs.

He recalled that in the 2016 Fiscal Policy, government placed a 20 per cent Import Adjustment Tax on four categories of medicines for which Nigerian manufacturers have more than enough capacity to satisfy local consumption. Adigwe said this laudable move by the Federal Government is not only aimed at ensuring sustainable access to high quality and affordable medicines, it will also protect the local industry, increase employment for Nigerians and attract Foreign Investment.

Already, he said, indications from industry experts suggest that based on the 2016 Fiscal Policy, there is a re-invigorated interest in the Nigerian pharmaceutical sector, as indicated by the number of foreign companies seeking to establish new factories, as well as buy into existing ones.

Health policy experts have confirmed that the measures highlighted in the 2016 Fiscal Policy will prevent dumping from foreign countries as well as improve sustainable access to medicines, since local capacity will be increased.

Evidence also suggests that since most fake and counterfeit medicines in Nigeria are imported, another major outcome of the 2016 Fiscal Policy is to further limit our exposure to fake drugs as well as safeguard Nigerians’ access to high quality medicines. It has been long established that drug-manufacturing plants in Nigeria are not only highly compliant to NAFDAC and Pharmacists’ Council of Nigeria (PCN) regulations, but also meet the highest international standards.

Meanwhile, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has re-iterated the commitment of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) to partner with local pharmaceutical manufacturing companies to ensure access to quality medicines by the Nigerian populace at affordable cost.

The Minister made this known in Abuja while meeting with members of PMG-MAN, in Abuja.

Adewole said that in line with the National Drug Policy that stipulates that Nigeria should aim at producing 70 per cent of its medicines need; the Health Ministry was ready to support willing and capable groups to expedite action towards the achievement of that goal.

In view of this, Adewole stressed that import duties on imported drugs would remain while waiver on tariffs would be sought on imported drugs yet to be manufactured in Nigeria. This, he added was one of the ways to encourage competiveness and create enabling environment for local drug manufacturers.

Adewole inaugurated a committee of experts, headed by the Director, Food and Drugs Services, Modupe Chukuma to come up with a list of drugs that Nigeria was yet to have the capacity to produce so that waiver on tariffs on importation could be sought from the Finance Ministry.

He advised the manufacturers to strive to reduce cost of locally manufactured drugs by as much as 30 per cent and create efficient systems to ensure that drugs get to the last person in need of them.Earlier in his presentation on the proposed Expedited Medicine’s Access Programme (E-MAP), the National President of PMG-MAN, Dr. S. Okechukwu Anpa, enumerated its benefits to include: improved access to medicine and affordability; assurance of quality drugs; sustainability of essential medicine needs and supply to Nigerians; employment of innovative techniques to absorb some local content cost and employment generation, amongst others.

Anpa noted that the fiscal policy of the government was not responsible for the recent hike in cost of medicines witnessed across the country. He sought for the support of the Federal government to assist the PMG-MAN by adopting the E-MAP and ensuring access to forex for basic raw materials required for production.

(guardian.ng)

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