Pharma Expo: PMG-MAN Rallies Support for Local Manufacturers

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L-R: Pharm. Frank Muonemeh, executive secretary, PMG-MAN; Pharm. Patrick Ajah, 1st vice-chairman, PMG-MAN; and Mr Chidubem Okoye, publicity secretary, PMG-MAN during the media briefing in Lagos.

 

In preparation for its forthcoming 7th Nigeria Pharma Manufacturers’ Expo, scheduled for 4th to 5th September,  2024, at Sheraton Hotel, Lagos, the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Group of the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN) has called on stakeholders, especially the Federal Government to support the local pharmaceutical manufacturing sector, in order to reduce Nigeria’s dependence on imported medicines from other countries.

Addressing the media in Lagos on Wednesday, the 1st Vice Chairman of the group and Managing Director of May and Baker Plc, Pharm. Patrick Ajah, said the annual Nigeria Pharma Manufacturers’ Expo has always been committed to boosting local manufacturing as a way of making quality medicines available to Nigerians at affordable prices.

“We are encouraging pharma companies who are not yet into manufacturing to go into manufacturing. Nigeria currently manufactures about 30 percent of its drug needs. With the challenges that we have now with multinational companies leaving, we are exposed. If we had prioritised local manufacturing before now, we would have been better placed to tackle the challenges we are facing right now”, he said.

Ajah also said investors and manufacturing companies from outside Nigeria will participate in the expo, thereby fostering an opportunity for knowledge sharing and transfer which are cardinal ingredients for the development of the local manufacturing sector.

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“The idea is to encourage people from outside who have things we do not yet have to come and participate in our expo. We are expecting about 75 companies, machine manufacturers and API manufacturers from India, China and other countries of the world.  This is going to be the best expo this year”, he added.

While lamenting the exit of multinationals like GSK from Nigeria, Ajah said their absence has led to the hike in prices of some of their products such as Ventolin HFA (albuterol sulfate) inhalation aerosol. He therefore added that such gaps left by companies like GSK can be filled by local manufacturers with the right support from government.

“We need to urgently boost local manufacturing to be able to fill the gap left by exiting multinationals like GSK. Since GSK left, Asthma medication has become very expensive and this is affecting many Nigerians suffering from the disease. Government must support the local manufacturers just as countries like India are doing.”

Reflecting on the history of PMG-MAN, Executive Secretary of the group, Pharm. Frank Mounemeh, said their success story started since 1983.

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“We have had a very rich history in terms of organising pharma expos. With about 20 foundation members in 1984, today we have over 120 local pharmaceutical manufacturing companies as our members. Interestingly NAFDAC’s data says there are 160 pharma manufacturing companies.

“In the last few months, some companies have indicated interest to become members of PMG-MAN. For you to be a member of PMG-MAN, you must be able to meet some basic GMP standards. We deploy some self-regulatory models to ensure that we meet the necessary requirements. We constantly strive towards building the capacities of our members to enable them attain GMP standards”, he said.

On the dependence of Nigeria on imported medicines, Muonemeh added that there are plans to scale up local manufacturing so that Nigeria can produce 70 percent of its drugs.

“We are also working towards the reversal of the country’s dependence on imported medicines from other countries. The target is to have 70 percent of our drugs manufactured locally. PMG-MAN has been on the driver’s seat advocating for medicine security.

“The idea of medicine security was conceptualised by PMG-MAN. The argument is that until you take the driver’s seat and control how the drugs you consume are produced, access to safe, quality and affordable medicines may not be guaranteed”, he said.

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Mounemeh also charged all stakeholders, including government to create the enabling environment for local manufacturers to thrive. He called for urgent actions on issues such as forex, energy, interest rates and the political will to implement orders on the part of government. He further argued that unless government makes local manufacturing a priority, more Nigerians would end up spending more on medications.

“There have been so much rhetoric about sustainable development goals and universal health coverage. The truth is that until you control how the drugs you consume are manufactured, all these things cannot be achieved. Out-of-pocket expenses may drive more Nigerians into poverty unless government prioritises local manufacturing,” he concluded.

While thanking the Federal Government for the recently signed executive order on pharmaceuticals, both Ajah and Muonemeh urged government and other stakeholders to ensure its speedy implementation to the letter, as it could become counterproductive if implementation is delayed – a situation they said, could negatively affect the operations of many local manufacturers.

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