Delayed Approval of Executive Order, Dangerous, BOF-PSN Warns Tinubu

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L-R: Pharm. Chris Ibeto, unofficio member; Pharm.Martins Igbinacho, chairman, conference planning committee; Pharm. Damian Izuka, secretary; Pharm. (Dr) Joel E.B Adagadzu, chairman, BOF-PSN; Chief (Mrs) Yetunde Morohundiya, vice-chairman; Pharm (Dr) Margaret Obono, financial secretary, and Pharm. Ngozi Unuora, assist. secretary.

Considering the plights of Nigerians who are groaning under the burden of soaring costs of medicines by the day and the dire challenges of local pharma manufacturers in accessing resources for local drug production, the Board of Fellows of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (BOF-PSN) has warned President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the looming disaster in the nation, if he fails to assent the executive order to ease access to quality medicines and local pharmaceutical production in the country.

Recall that the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Muhammad Pate, in January this year announced the intention of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to issue an executive order towards slashing the escalating costs of pharmaceutical products for the teeming population as well as exonerating local pharma manufacturers from foreign exchange duties and tariffs, for some months to enable them stabilise their production process over a period of time.

Pharmanewsonline reports that five months later, Mr President is yet to assent the executive order, regardless of the sufferings of the masses. The Minister of State for Heath, Dr Tunji Alausa, in a chat with our correspondent last week, affirmed the unapproved status of the executive order, though he assured that all documentations are completed for the order, as it only awaits the president’s signature, which he expects to happen within few weeks.

The Chairman, BOF-PSN, Dr Joel Adagadzu, while briefing journalists on their fourth coming Sixth Public Lecture and Mid-Year Meeting, themed: “Access to quality medicines in an unstable environment”, decried the traumatic experiences of Nigerians in accessing quality drugs, as well as the incapability of indigenous drug companies in meeting their needs, which are evident factors of medicine insecurity for any nation, and can engender national insecurity, if urgent steps are not taken to address the situation.

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He holistically narrated the harrowing experiences of citizens, himself inclusive, as he opened up on his inability to afford his essential medicines, with astronomic increase in prices, leaving millions of Nigerians at risk of preventable diseases and death, due to the unaffordability and unavailability of quality drugs in the country. While awaiting the timely presidential intervention, he disclosed the plan of the BOF to deal with the intricacies of this subject matter at the public lecture, schedule to hold in Awka, Anambra State from 26 to 27 June 2024, with Mr Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, as the guest speaker.

Adagadzu said, “In the past few months, we have seen some level of commitment directed at easing the challenges faced by the pharma industry in Nigeria. These signs are quite encouraging; however, considering the emergency nature of the state of our industry, delaying such support is not helping matters at all. The country cannot be importing hundred percentage of its active pharmaceutical raw materials and be paying all kinds of taxes and custom fees while operating under debilitating challenges and still be expected to produce affordable medicines.

“We call on Mr President to take quick actions based on his convictions in order to save the pharmaceutical industry without further delay”.

The BOF-PSN Chairman, further charged President Tinubu on the organisation of a National Dialogue on local manufacture of essential medicines, regular discourse between PSN stakeholders and Federal Government on access to medicines, and consideration of medicines security by the Federal Government as an important and integral component of national security and accord it its pride of place.

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He expressed the eagerness of the BOF-PSN in witnessing a public lecture that will traverse the narrow boundaries of political considerations as it focuses on the plight of the citizens pressed down by the heavy burden of costs and other challenges related to access to medicines of good quality.It is our belief, he averred, that finding solutions to the nation’s challenges is the responsibility of all patriotic Nigerians and not just the exclusive preserve of those in government.

“Our country is going through a difficult period at the moment in terms of the dire economic situation. Inflation is on a steady rise, foreign exchange is thwarted by the unstable exchange rate of the Naira to the Dollar. Access to Dollars by importers and Local manufacturers of medicines can be traumatic.  The prices of medicines have gone up by high percentage and still rising by the day. As important stakeholders in the medicines economy, we consider it expedient to ceaselessly draw the attention of government to the plight of Nigerians who are daily unable to have access to quality medicines. The BOF hereby calls on Government to act fast in order to reverse this ugly trend”, he stressed.

In their contributions, other executives of the BOF-PSN mentioned factors worsening the inaccessibility of essential medicines for the common Nigerian, as the Vice-Chairman, BOF-PSN, Chief (Mrs) Yetunde Morohundiya, called on government to pragmatic in its support for local drug manufacturers through their patronage of these indigenous drugs. She also condemned the act of government hospitals owing pharma companies huge debt, which deprive them of funds for their running costs.

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In the same vein, the Chairman, Conference Planning Committee, Pharm. Martins Igbonacho, lamented lack of government’s efforts in revamping petrochemical industries in the country, like the one at Eleme, saying it is the fixing of such industry that can bring solution to the dearth of active pharmaceutical ingredients in the country. He also berated NAFDAC for allegedly overburdening pharmacists in the registration of local drug companies and products, adding that the requirement of $ 10,000 as visitation fee each time the NAFDAC team needs to inspect the company site is outrageous.

Also speaking at the meeting, the Financial Secretary, Pharm. (Dr) Margaret Obono, underscored the need for government’s urgent intervention in attaining medicine security, arguing that since access to medicine is a fundamental human right, it behooves Mr President to as a matter emergency approve the executive order on essential medicines and local drug manufacturing.

Hinting further on the MYM, Adagadzu disclosed that the MYM will be followed by a closing dinner wgucg wil be graced by the Executive Governor of Anambra State, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, CON, while the Chairman of the Dinner will be HRM Igwe Rt. Hon. Onyido Alexander Uzodinma, JP.

In line with the BOF-PSN custom, he said awards will be presented to some prominent Nigerians for their contributions to national development in various ways and also for their regular support to the growth of the Pharmacy profession.

 

 

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