The Minister of State for Health, Hon. Joseph Ekumankama, has decried lack of locally sourced Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) in the country, saying it is unbefitting for Nigeria not to have a single pharmaceutical company that produces APIs.
He condemned the current state of pharmaceutical manufacturing in the country, where all APIs used by pharma companies are imported from India, China, USA and Germany, with large amounts of the nation’s scarce foreign exchange earnings spent on importation.
Ekumankama, who made the remarks at the International Scientific Workshop, jointly organised by the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists (WAPCP) and Nigerian Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) in Abuja on Tuesday, called on all stakeholders to develop strategies and capacities in bridging the gap.
Speaking on the theme: “Local Manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) in the West African Region”, he said the essence of the conference is to review the current state of pharmaceutical manufacturing in the country as well as chart progress path.
“The situation where there is no single pharmaceutical company that produces any APIs or pharmaceutical excipients locally is no longer tolerable.
“This auspicious event is aimed at bringing together critical stakeholders within the pharmaceutical sector to review the existing capacities for the local production of API in Nigeria and develop strategies to accelerate the process in the West African Region, leveraging on the African Free Continental Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“This important platform provides the avenue for robust intellectual discourse to discern all thematic areas bedeviling the inadequacy of Nigeria to leverage on her comparative advantage as the leading pharmaceutical manufacturing country within the West African region,” he stated.
According to him, even though there has been noticeable improvement in the Nigerian healthcare system over the past 24 months, largely as a result of intentional and direct funding interventions to strengthen the system in response to gaps that were exposed during the COVID-19 Pandemic, there are still substantial obstacles standing in the way of the general public’s access to high-quality medications and healthcare.
“The overall goal of this policy is to make available at all times to the Nigerian populace adequate supplies of drugs that are effective, affordable, safe and of good quality; to ensure the rational use of such drugs; and to stimulate increased local production of essential drugs,” he said.
The minister added that the mutually beneficial partnership between NIPRD and WAPCP would facilitate the cross fertilization of ideas and innovations that would gradually change the narrative in assuring medicines’ self-sufficiency in local production of primary raw materials and secondary finished pharmaceutical products.
He also commended the College’s important role in producing highly specialised pharmacists, who are well prepared and informed to provide pharmaceutical care services for better citizen health and well-being.
The long-term implementation of the Pharmacist Consultant cadre, across departments, agencies, and federal health institutions, he noted, is a major priority that is regularly reviewed for proper execution in accordance with existing government circulars and memoranda.
Ekumankama, expressed his appreciation to the organisers of the conference, as he congratulated Dr Obi Peter Adigwe, director general (NIPRD) and Distinguished Prof. Cecilia Igwilo, president of the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists (WAPCP) and all their team members for the laudable event; as he assured them of the full support of government for the actualisation of their goals.