(By Yusuff Moshood)
In 2011, the University of Ibadan won a grant from the MacArthur Foundation’s Africa Higher Education Initiative and used it to establish a Centre for Drug Discovery Development and Production (CDDDP) in the Faculty of Pharmacy.
According to the Dean of the faculty, Professor Chinedum O. Babalola, the CDDDP was established to help improve the quality and availability of essential medicines in West Africa.
Professor Babalola, while speaking at a one-day workshop organised by the CDDDP in conjunction with BASF(a chemical company based in Europe) on 6 June, 2013, with the theme, “From Powder to Tablets”, said that there was need to build the capability and capacity to discover, develop, produce and adequately regulate medicines targeted to the needs of Africans.
The vision of CDDDP, she explained, was to have a centre of excellence in West Africa that would serve as a platform for world-class training in drug discovery, development and production, by building Africa’s capacity to make her own drugs in Africa, by Africans for Africa and the world.
To achieve its vision, the CDDDP, she said, would develop a curriculum and run postgraduate programmes in Drug Development, Industrial and Medicine Regulation; offer short courses in Good Manufacturing Practices for target groups; strengthen existing facilities for research and development (R&D) in drug discovery and production; develop pharmaceutical products from research findings; and establish a cGMP facility pre-qualifiable by WHO for pilot manufacturing and quality assurance of medicines circulating in the sub-region for service provision and bridging the gap between academia and industry.
Aside the aforementioned workshop held in Lagos, the CDDDP also organised a three-day international conference on “Medicine Regulation of Claims: From Concept to Launch” in collaboration with Reckitt Benckiser, UK. The conference held at the University of Ibadan from 2 to 4 October, 2013 with over 150 participants, which included virtually all the stakeholders in the drug industry (regulators, industrial pharmacists, academia and consumers).
The CDDDP has also signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with several institutions and agencies, among which are: National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) Abuja, and the Kilimanjaro School of Pharmacy (KSP), Tanzania.
Highlights of services to be rendered by the CDDDP, according to Prof. Babalola, include: quality assurance of pharmaceuticals; food and cosmetics; anti-counterfeiting research, bioavailability/bioequivalence studies for registration of generics; evaluation of claims; clinical trials, contract manufacturing/API pilot manufacturing; formulation of herbal medicines; toxicity studies; and short-term courses in good pharmaceutical practices.
The CDDDP initiative is quite laudable and should be of tremendous help in building capacity for the provision of quality essential medicines for the teeming population of Nigeria and the sub-Sahara Africa region.