As part of preparations for the production of vaccines in Nigeria, the Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, has stated that the agency’s vaccine laboratory will be ready in the next six months. This, she said, will boost the medicine security of the nation, as well as fortify the country against any eventualities, including disease outbreaks.
Adeyeye, who made the disclosure at the recent hybrid stakeholders meeting on pharmaceutical traceability, organised by NAFDAC in Lagos, revealed that the agency’s vaccine laboratory is about 70 per cent complete.
Recalling how the nation’s healthcare system went through a difficult time during COVID-19, the NAFDAC boss stressed that having narrowly escaped the onslaught of the viral infection, the production of local vaccines and medicines must be a priority for any reasonable nation.
According to her, the pandemic has shown that “if you don’t have your own, you have to depend on others”, adding that “NAFDAC is the only agency in sub-Saharan Africa that has its own in-house biologics and vaccine laboratory. We have a lot going for us as a country. We just have to get our acts together and start producing.
While revealing that the COFAX facilities targeted supplying vaccine to only 20 per cent of Nigeria’s population in their vaccine distribution to low-income countries during COVID-19, Adeyeye said: “We didn’t even get to that level because of the low prevalence. But you can imagine if we had very high prevalence. And you never know what is around the corner. Whether it’s a pandemic or an epidemic, we need to manufacture our own vaccines.”
She further revealed that the agency had been taking some significant steps towards the achievement of the vaccine production milestone. According to her, NAFDAC had been going through a lot of transformation, from laboratory to registration to job evaluation and research. She also said that staff of the agency had gone on two rounds of training in South Korea, with the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Adeyeye equally averred that, sequel to the recognition given to Nigeria in February 2022 as one of the six countries that can manufacture vaccines, the Federal Government has entered into a Public Private Partnership arrangement with Biovaccines Nigeria Limited (BVNL). She added that one or two other private companies had also indicated serious interests to manufacture vaccines in Nigeria.
The NAFDAC DG however noted that to prevent any anomalies in the production chain when vaccine production eventually commences in the country, manufacturers must know their chain, stressing that this will enhance easy detection of middlemen who might want to creep into the chain surreptitiously.
‘‘You must know your distributors, the wholesalers, retailers. It is when you know your chain that you can guarantee the quality. It will be easier to follow through and it will be easier to identify anybody that is trying to infiltrate that chain or infiltrate your trade”, she warned.
Adeyeye also mentioned other efforts of NAFDAC in standardising local medicine manufacturing in the country, such as the ML3 which was achieved four years ago. She disclosed that the agency is approaching ML4 approval from the World Health Organisation, noting that this will help to launch locally made medicines into the global pharmaceutical market.
She further revealed that, while it took Ghana 13 years to get ML3, it took Nigeria only four years to attain the prestigious status, adding that achieving ML4 will significantly help the country’s manufacturing industry to grow.
In her words: “It will also help importers that are migrating from importation of pharmaceutical products to local manufacturing. It will help in terms of trade.
‘’We are going to strengthen our operations and be more effective. We are going to get ML4. We are going to get marked for World Listed Authority, apart from ML4.”
Also speaking at the meeting, Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN) Dr Fidelis Ayebae, assured NAFDAC of the group’s unalloyed support in the agency’s efforts to attain the WHO Maturity Level 4 status and launch Nigeria into the league of vaccines and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) producers in the world.
Ayebae, who is also the Chief Executive Officer, Fidson Healthcare Plc, vowed to mobilise other chief executive officers of pharmaceutical companies in the country towards collaborating with NAFADC to make its oversight responsibility over the industry more effective and help the industry to grow.
He added that PMG-MAN would form a technical committee with NAFDAC that would work with the agency to ensure that the industry attains greater heights.
‘’Let me assure you that if there is one body in foods and drugs and other related chemicals which are under your purview that wants you to succeed more than anything else, it is PMG-MAN,” he said.