Improve Business Environment for Pharma Manufacturers, LCCI DG Tasks FG

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R-L: Pharm.(Mrs)Bukky George, founder, HealthPlus Pharmacy; Pharm.Adewale Oladigbolu, national chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria,(ACPN);Dr Chinyere Almona, DG, Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry(LCCI) ; Pharm.Akinjide Adeosun, chairman/CEO,St. Racheal’s Pharma & his Wife, Pharm.(Mrs)Olubamiwo Adeosun at the Media Event commemorating St. Racheal’s Pharma @ 6,recently in Lagos, Nigeria.   

For the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry in Nigeria to reassert its dominance in West Africa and beyond, it is incumbent on the Federal Government to expand its investment in the subsector by ensuring availability and affordability of long-term single-digit concessionary credit facilities for local manufacturers.

This was among the recommendations given by the Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr Chinyere Almona, at the recent 6th Anniversary of St. Racheal’s Pharma.

Speaking on the theme: “Manufacturing renaissance: The panacea for drug security in Nigeria”, the LCCI DG x-rayed the of factors impeding the attainment of drug security in Nigeria, while suggesting proven panacea to the issues.

Almona maintained that accessibility of long-term single-digit loans for pharma manufacturers is one of the major determinants of drug security in Nigeria, as it is evident from the recent exit of some multinational pharmaceuticals from the country. She added that a number of local players are also closing shops due to financial incapacitation, fueled by skyrocketing inflation and economic hardship.

She cited the recent $240 million investment, secured by the Federal Government from a Brazilian pharmaceutical firm for manufacturing of generic pharmaceuticals, as an example of funds that could be leased out to local manufacturers on long-term basis in boosting their operations. She urged the government to make the disbursement of such funds open to stakeholders as they are interested in the criteria for the allocation of the loan, whether favourable or not.

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The LCCI DG also emphasised the need for a holistic review of existing policies, laws and regulations to ensure a conducive regulatory framework for pharma businesses. She equally urged practitioners to leverage technology in enhancing efficiency and competitiveness, citing examples from other countries as models for emulation.

She further averred that tax reforms feature prominently in discussions surrounding sectoral rejuvenation, adding that efforts to streamline taxation processes and reduce the tax burden on businesses are underway, spearheaded by the Presidential Committee on Tax Reform.

“However, challenges persist, with the need for simplification and uniformity across states,” she said.

The challenges notwithstanding, Almona noted that there exists a sense of optimism regarding the sector’s potential. She affirmed that, with concerted efforts from both the public and private sectors, the Nigerian pharmaceutical manufacturing landscape could undergo a transformative resurgence in order to drive economic growth, job creation, and sustainable development.

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Pharm. Akinjide Adeosun, CEO of St. Racheal’s, in his address, shared insights and perspectives on the intricate dynamics of the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry. He recounted challenges encountered over the years, including regulatory hurdles, supply chain disruptions, and economic uncertainties. Amidst these challenges, he said, there was a shared sense of optimism and determination to overcome and drive positive change.

Going forward, he underscored the importance of collective action and collaboration in addressing pressing issues facing the manufacturing subsector, particularly in the realm of drug security, stressing the need for the provision of manufacturing grants to boost the production capacity of local producers.

“We need grants for not just the large companies. Small, medium, and large organisations will need to have access to grants. I’m not talking about loans; I mean grants. Then, by the time those drugs are produced, buy off.

“So if  the government gives one billion to a company, and it is going to stimulate demand, it can get one billion back on drugs, and send to UCH, groups, state government, and others,

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“I think that should be an idea that the fiscal authorities – the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Trade and Industry – should consider in ensuring drug security in the country”, he stated.

Adeosun seized the opportunity of the event to celebrate achievements and milestones within the pharmaceutical sector. He acknowledged the strides made in advancing cooperative excellence and fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration.

In their contributions, the duo of Pharm. Adebayo Afon, founder, Afon Chains, and Pharm. (Mrs) Bukky George, CEO of HeathPlus Pharmacy, spoke on wholesale and retail pharmacy perceptive, highlighting the need for African countries to break free from historical patterns of reliance on raw material exports. Instead, they called for a transition towards value-added manufacturing processes, akin to the trajectories observed in India, the United States, China, and Taiwan.

They underscored the importance of creating a conducive environment for local manufacturing businesses to thrive, including addressing regulatory bottlenecks and providing support for capacity-building initiatives.

Scarcity of resources, according to them, has forced practitioners to navigate cumbersome supply chains, leading to increased stress and logistic challenges in accessing medicines.

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