Invest N20b in factory upgrades in five years
Pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria have canvassed policy consistency and clarity as well as a new strategy for drug import to enable them remain in business.
The pharmaceutical companies, who are members of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN), lamented that over 120 of its members were being threatened by policy flip-flops.
Making this known at the PMG-MAN/Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN) Forum held in Abuja, PMG-MAN Chairman Mr. Okey Akpa said drug makers were not carried along when major policies affecting them were made.
He said, for instance, the Common External Tariff (CET) threatened to wipe out the industry between June 2015 and last November, until the Federal Government intervened.
“The CET threatened to wipe us out until the last year’s fiscal policy changed the dynamics. The CET provides for five to 20 per cent tariff for importation of pharmaceutical raw materials, but allows finished medicines to enter into any country in the sub-region at no duty.
“But we are grateful that the Federal Government intervened with the 2016 Fiscal Policy, which imposed tariffs on four categories of imported drugs,” Akpa said.
He stressed the need for an import strategy that will hand over importation to those who are already manufacturing medicines. This, he said, means that they have plans to start producing the drugs.
“When you hand importation to those who are not manufacturing and have no plan to do so, you are discouraging local manufacturing,” Akpa said.
PHN Managing Director/CEO, Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq, said there was the need to create an enabling environment for local manufacturers to thrive through effective supply chain management.
“At the heart of this vision is the Africa Resource Centre, which is targeted at mobilising the private sector and the academia to complement other actors currently supporting the public health supply chain, to accelerate and sustain improvement in key supply chain outcomes,” he said.
Umar-Sadiq stressed the need for collaboration by all stakeholders in the value chain to ensure efficiency in drug distribution and enable the country achieve self-sufficiency in drug production.
Fidson Healthcare Plc Managing Director/CEO, Mr. Fidelis Ayebae, said N20 billion had been spent by pharmaceutical firms in the last five years in factory, quality and facility upgrades, describing this as “a monumental achievement”.
Dangote Industries Limited President, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said that logistics remained the biggest challenge facing manufacturers after energy problem, stressing the need for synergy to save costs.
“How do we partner with the government in such a way that it brings returns on investment?” Dangote asked, noting that “as pharmaceuticals, we should not all bid for the same contract, but create efficiency in warehousing.”
National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Executive Secretary, Usman Yusuf, called for partnership between drug makers and the agency to widen health insurance coverage.
He said the only way to ensure efficiency in drug distribution was to see a good healthcare system as a human right and a tool for poverty alleviation.
“Our health insurance coverage is still very low. We need partnership with all the stakeholders to ensure the insurance scheme is implemented at all levels,” he said.
Source: The Nation