For Nigeria to achieve self-sufficiency in local pharmaceutical manufacturing, which will bring about a change in the narrative of 70 per cent importation and 30 per cent local production, pharma manufacturers have called for the urgent intervention of the Federal Government and financial institutions, through the provision of flexible loans and collaterals to boost their production capacity.
The manufacturers who recounted their ordeals during the COVID-19 era, said they performed at their peak in spite of hurdles encountered, which is a testament to the fact that they can do better if given the necessary financial assistance and conductive working environment to thrive.
Although the Federal Government recently disclosed its plans through the Special Adviser to the President on Health, Salma Anas-Ibrahim, to reduce drug importation from 60 to 40 per cent, local manufacturers have given the government a job list of what to do in making this dream a reality, placing availability of flexible loans top on the list.
They also harped on the importance of favourable policies from government as well as financial houses, noting that these will go a long way in cushioning the effects of the harsh economy on their activities, improve the health of the nation and the GDP.
The key players in the pharmaceutical industry made their submissions at the St. Racheal’s Pharma Finance Forum held recently, with the theme: “Manufacturing renaissance in Nigeria”.
Pharm. Akinjide Adeosun, CEO of St. Racheal’s Pharma, in his address at the forum lamented the continuous dependence of Nigeria on other countries for its pharmaceutical supply, saying this will in no way facilitate growth of the industry, except there is a drastic change, which requires huge financial support to boost local manufacturers’ capacity.
Identifying the important role that financial institutions play in the economy, especially in assisting businesses and sectors grow, he said it was time for the banks particularly, to support pharmaceutical manufacturing industries and the health sector in general.
“In so doing, challenging areas such as access to loan facilities need to be looked into. Alongside, there has to be flexibility when it comes to loans and collaterals.
“There is also need to network with government to better have good grasp of policies and have smooth transition into aligning with policies”, he averred.
The St Racheal’s boss also made a case for renewed hope, whereby he urged for flexible credit terms, realization of a single digit interest rate and a smooth transition to a possible 30 to 50 per cent of local manufacturing.
Adeosun also urged for a reduction of CRR of DMB’s from 32.5 per cent to 10.0 per cent as similar to what is obtainable in Merchant Banks.
According to him, “Nationally and sub-nationally, governments must support pharmaceutical industries through PPP models. There is need for free medical management palliative for indigent patients and assured national security through improved and large scale local manufacturing”.
In his presentation at the forum titled “Renaissance: The size of the pharmaceutical opportunities in Nigeria”, Pharm. Ayodeji Alaran, MD or PBR Life Sciences, reiterated the strategic position of the pharma industry in providing medication and other sectors support to strengthen the nation’s security and health of citizens.
He stressed that the perception of the health sector was reflective of how healthy and secure, in terms of access to healthcare, a country was.
He also called for immediate intervention to support local pharma industries, citing that the COVID-19 further revealed the sector’s vulnerability and its high import dependency with evident shortage of supply. However, in the midst of that challenge, local industries showed significant increase in manufacturing as they demonstrated resilience and capacity to close gaps. So, if given the needed support, they will continue to grow.
“ Hence, the need to scale support with favourable policies, low interest rate financing as well as sustainable and realistic finance model, as what is presently obtainable is not sustainable”, he insisted.
Also speaking at the programme, Pharm. Lekan Asuni, MD, Lefas and formerly MD of GSK, identified paucity of data as another challenge in the industry and called for aggregation of data to help the pharmaceutical industry in their businesses.
In her presentation on “The Renaissance of Nigerian’s Manufacturing Sector and the Role of Financial Institutions’’,
Mrs Ijeoma Ozulumba , ED/chief finance officer of Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), in her contribution, explained that only about 17 percent of loans and advances have been made to the manufacturing industry in the country in recent years.
She highlighted some of the contributions of the manufacturing industry to include economic growth, employment, forex, earnings, technology transfer and innovation, value chain development and import substitution.
On the roles of financial institutions in helping grow the pharma manufacturing industry, she said they included but were not limited to providing: access to capital, investing and financing specialty, infrastructure development, power supply, transport and logistics enablement, risk management and insurance, export financing, especially as share of export had been low, trade facilitation, support to SMEs, among others.
Ozulumba also noted that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) also provided opportunities for the local pharma manufacturing industries to integrate and bloom.
She assured that her organisation would increase funding opportunities and access for improved economic control and development.
Mr Dimeji Abolade, representing Sanofi stressed on the need for full capacity utilsation of factories and human resources.