Pharma Manufacturers Task FG, Banks on Financial Support, Better Policies

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L-R : Mr Ahmed Kagara, divisional head, Bank Of Industry(BOI); Pharm.Akinjide Adeosun, chairman, St.Racheal’s Pharma; Pharm. Olanike Kolawole, deputy general manager, Ecobank and Pharm.Lekan Asuni, CEO, Lefas Pharmaceuticals, at the forum

 

Pharmaceutical manufacturers in Nigeria have stated that for the country to adequately boost its pharmaceutical production capacity and ultimately attain medicine security, both the government and private entities, especially financial institutions, must be willing to render necessary assistance through financial support and enabling policies.

 

The stakeholders gave the charge at the recent St. Racheal’s Pharma Finance Forum, which had the theme: “Manufacturing renaissance in Nigeria”.

 

Recounting their ordeals and survival strategies during the COVID-19 era, the manufacturers said they managed to perform at their peak, despite hurdles encountered, saying this proves that they can do much better, if given the necessary wherewithal.

 

They added that, even with the recent disclosure by the Federal Government, through the Special Adviser to the President on Health, Salma Anas-Ibrahim, of plans to reduce drug importation from 60 to 40 per cent, not much can be achieved unless there is provision of flexible loans, single digit interest rate,and a smooth transition to a possible 30 to 50 per cent of local manufacturing.

 

They also harped on the importance of favourable policies from government, as well as financial institutions, noting that these will go a long way in cushioning the effects of the harsh economy on their activities, while improving the health of the nation and the GDP.

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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 supplies, saying the industry’s growth will continue to be hampered, except there is a drastic change. A key part of this change, he said, is getting huge financial support to boost local manufacturers’ capacity.

 

Identifying the important role that financial institutions play in the economy, especially in assisting businesses and the various sectors to grow, Adeosun said banks need to do more to support the pharmaceutical industry.

 

According to him, “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 a good grasp of policies and have a smooth transition into aligning with policies.”

 

The St. Racheal’s boss also called for a reduction of CRR of DMBs, from 32.5 per cent to 10.0 per cent, similar to what is obtainable in merchant banks.

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He said, “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 of PBR Life Sciences, reiterated the strategic position of the pharma industry in providing medications and other services to strengthen the health of the citizens and the nation’s security.

 

He stressed that the state of the health sector is reflective of how healthy and secure, in terms of access to healthcare, a country is.

 

He also called for immediate intervention to support local pharma industries, citing that the COVID-19 outbreak had further revealed the health sector’s vulnerability, with its high import dependency.

 

Also speaking at the programme, Pharm. Lekan Asuni, MD, Lefas, and former MD of GSK, identified paucity of data as another challenge in the pharma industry, and called for aggregation of data to help the players in their businesses.

 

In her presentation on “The renaissance of Nigeria’s manufacturing sector and the role of financial institutions’’, Mrs Ijeoma Ozulumba, ED/chief finance officer of Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), explained that only about 17 per cent of loans and advances had been made to the manufacturing sector in the country in recent years.

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She highlighted some of the contributions of the sector to the nation 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 to grow the pharma manufacturing industry, she said they include 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 provides 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, also stressed the need for full capacity utilisation of factories and human resources in the pharma manufacturing industry.

 

 

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