– Advises ACPN to form bulk purchasing group
A US-based Nigerian pharmacist, Ike Okeke, has urged the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) and all other professional bodies in the pharmaceutical sector to engage the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for better regulations that will help reduce cost of drugs and guarantee better health for Nigerians.
Okeke, who is the managing director of Superior Pharmaceuticals Nigeria Limited gave the charge in a statement made available to Pharmanews as part of his recommendations for the Nigerian pharma industry to have a significant turnaround in the present year.
“To have a better year 2021 that will enhance the advancement of the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry, I will encourage all the professional bodies in the pharmaceutical sector to continue to engage the regulators (PCN, NAFDAC) in crafting new rules and regulations that will better protect the citizens and lower the cost of drugs,” Okeke said.
Expressing his expectations from the Nigerian government and the regulatory bodies in the pharmaceutical sector towards a better year, Okeke posited that NAFDAC can play a vital role in stimulating the pharmaceutical sector by reviewing its tariffs to make it easier for small and medium pharma companies to survive.
He said: “The tariff charged Nigerian pharmaceutical companies for Good Manufacturing practices (GMP) desk review needs to be waived since this is a duplication of same fees paid by the manufacturers.
“Indigenous production of essential pharmaceuticals products is key to security of lives in Nigeria. The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), in conjunction with the local banks should offer affordable loans to pharmaceutical importers who want to go into local manufacturing. This has the capacity to create one million jobs over a 10-year period.
“NAFDAC can lower the barriers to entry of new manufacturers by relaxing some of its rules on Cardiovascular Diagnosis and Therapy (CDT) dossiers and create a department to guide and help the local manufacturers to be compliant with good manufacturing practices”, Okeke said.
The Superior Pharma boss also called on the ACPN to form a buying group that can purchase drugs in bulk from manufacturers, importers or distributors, saying such a move will help to reduce cost of purchase and the eventual unit cost of drugs, thereby increasing patronage for registered pharmacies.
His words: “ACPN has a major role to play since they are the first point of contact for most patients. They need to form a buying group that can purchase drugs from manufacturers and importers and/or distributors. The savings from such bulk purchase will then be passed to patients, which will effectively lower their cost of purchase and help to drive more patients to registered pharmacies instead of open markets and unregulated premises.
“There is also need to improve on product knowledge and disease states management so that they can capture and treat empirically those that they can treat and refer complex cases to doctors and specialists for immediate care.”
The Superior Pharma boss also seized the opportunity to reiterate the commitment of his organisation to the development of the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry, noting that the focus of Superior Pharma in 2021 is to provide medicines for life-threatening diseases.
Okeke further revealed that the company is working on newer molecules for prostate cancer, which will be introduced in 2021, adding that the company is also planning to ensure that the products are manufactured locally.
He said: “Our focus is to provide medicines for life-threatening disease like high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and pain. We introduced Suphage (Metformin-Glymepiride), Panache (Ketorolac) for pain, Suplavat (telmisartan-amlodipine) for blood pressure and Flowel Plus (Tamsulosin-Dutasteride) for prostate enlargement.
“We are working on newer molecules for prostate cancer which we intend to introduce in 2021, like Abiraterone and other novel agents. We will transition the manufacturing of our over-the-counter (OTC) range of products like ciprofloxacin and Artemether-Lumefanthrine to local manufacturing, using local, World Health Organisation (WHO)’s preapproved plants. This will help keep our jobs in Nigeria.
“Exporting our jobs has serious security implications for everyone. We will continue to partner with ACPN and NMA to provide product knowledge and basic diagnostic skills for community pharmacists to better serve their patients and detect and prevent cases with high mortality and mobidity. Intervention of community pharmacists is critical for the overall wellbeing of our citizens.”