It was a great moment at the Muson Centre, Lagos, as leading stakeholders and notable personalities in the health sector converged in Lagos on 11 September, 2014 to felicitate with the management of May & Baker Nigeria Plc., at an event organised to celebrate the company’s 70th anniversary.
Among the dignitaries who graced the colourful dinner were Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, minister of health; Mrs Olufunsho Amosun, first lady of Ogun State; Lt-General Theophilus Danjuma, chairman, May &Baker Plc.; Pharm. Nnamdi Okafor, managing director, May and Baker Plc.; Pharm. (Mrs) Vera Nwanze, head of Novartis Pharma (Nigeria & Ghana); Pharm. Lekan Asuni, managing director of GlaxoSmithKline (Pharma) Nigeria; David Dankaro, former chairman of May & Baker; and Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, deputy vice chancellor of Lagos State University (LASU) representing the first lady of Lagos State; and Pharm. Kayode Aiyegbajeje, chairman, Lagos branch of Nigerian Association of Hospital and Administration Pharmacists (NAHAP).
May &Baker MD, Pharm. Nnamdi Okafor, disclosed that the company was celebrating the milestone for three reasons.
“First reason is that 70 is a landmark age that deserves to be celebrated. Second, May& Baker has during the long years saved the lives of millions of Nigerians through its quality and efficacious medicines. The last reason is because this is the moment M&B has turned full circle – moving from a distributor of products imported from its principals to a local manufacturer of quality medicines for the Nigerian market,” he said.
Buttressing the MD’s notion, Lt-General Danjuma disclosed that, within the last 70 years, many companies had collapsed due to the harsh operating environment but May&Baker had been fortunate to survive it all.
He also revealed the secret of the company’s success over the years.
“We built trust and confidence through quality products offering and a commitment to saving lives,” he said. “What we are celebrating today is the story of a great corporate legend that did not only introduce western medicine into Nigeria but equally has for seven decades been consistent in providing quality drugs that have saved millions.”
The chairman equally commended the efforts of the government through the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in assisting growth in the pharmaceutical industry.
He however noted that government needed to do more in the area of promoting private sector capacity building, as well as technological development to handle critical diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS, and to produce vaccines for preventable health disorder.
“That way, companies can become relevant in combating epidemics such as Ebola Virus Disease (EVD),” he stressed.
Minister of Health, Prof. Chukwu said the federal government was delighted to note the giant and pioneering strides May&Baker had made in the development of the nation’s pharma sector since inception.
“All these can be attributed to the ingenious of the leadership of the company which has continued to ensure safe, efficacious and quality drugs,” he said.
Chukwu acknowledged that it was the vital role played by May&Baker and other indigenous companies that made government give support for WHO prequalification, patronage of local pharma companies in line with provision of Procurement Act 2007, facilitation of access to cheap funds, approval of the national health bill, as well as the national drug distribution policy.
Applauding the feat attained by May&Baker, Pharm. Vera Nwanze described it as significant and laudable milestone.
“As a young pharmacist then, May & Baker was one of the few foremost pharmaceutical companies around,” she recalled. “I am glad the legacy is sustained especially here in Nigeria where we know companies come and go. It has lived up to his slogan of “Strong & Reliable.”
Sharing same view, Pharm. Kayode Aiyegbajeje of NAHAP, said, “This is what 70 years of celebration should look like. It is quite good. May&Baker has been there before I was born. In fact, I grew up to know that M&B was not even a drug but a brand. I work in hospital pharmacy and can tell what the majority of the patient needs are. Over the years, May & Baker has since diversified from vaccine to other areas and has continued to be consistent and focused.”
In his own view, Pharm. Asuni of GlaxoSmithKline noted that it was expected that 70th anniversary should mean so much to a company like May&Baker.
“It shows the company has gone through transformation and it calls for celebration,” he said.