For the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry to come out of it’s precarious condition and compete favourably in the comity of nations, the government must produce deliberate and actively executed national strategy for pharmaceutical economic development, the President, Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in Diaspora, NAPPSA, Dr Anthony Ikeme, has said.
Ikeme, who was the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony of the 23rd Annual Conference of the Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria, NAIP on Wednesday, 23 September, ex-rayed the pharmaceutical sector’s capacity pre and during COVID-19 era, saying there is need for urgent intervention to salvage and rehabilitate the industry for growth to take place.
He noted that: “Nigeria is lacking in state-of-the art facilities and relevant experienced personnel to drive the pharmaceutical sector agenda”
Highlighting some of the challenges facing the industry to include: Lack of local raw materials, underdeveloped petrochemical and primary API manufacturing capacity;
low uptake of pharmaceutical technology;
Low research and development capacity;
currency volatility; Limited regulatory guidelines and misaligned government policies, he said the result of these inadequacies can only be underdeveloped capabilities for R&D, innovation and manufacturing.
Ikeme, who expressed no amazement at the low performance of the Nigerian pharma sector, said that will surely be the outcome when the underpinning pillars of the pharma sector success are weak.
He further listed the pre COVID-19 realities of the sector, saying the Nigerian Pharma Market is a market for foreign products with almost total dependence on imports from China and India; with approximately 70% of our pharmaceutical products being imported and many estimate a total $600M worth of medicaments, with over 90% (Maybe 100%) of API and other pharmaceutical raw materials being imported.
“The implication is that the resources that could have gone into investment to expand local production capacity ends as profit to foreign companies, weakening the chances of locally developing a full pharmaceutical value chain operations in Nigeria
“So one can say that the vulnerabilities have always been there, even before the COVID-19 pandemic came along.
“COVID-19 only exacerbated the volatilities we already knew existed and once again reminded us how vulnerable we are to the vagaries of other nations decisions”, he analysed.
Going forward, he urged government to come up with an effective blueprint for the development of the sector, which should include but not limited to: leveraging on Diasporan community relationship, rally support for the Pharmacity project, attracting foreign investors, and investing in people.