(By Temitope Obayendo)
Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN), Chief Bunmi Olaopa, has disclosed that for local manufacturing of drugs in Nigeria to meet the National Health Policy ratio of 70 per cent, as opposed to the 30 per cent for imported drugs, there is need for a deliberate policy of government to encourage patronage of locally produced medicines.
Olaopa, who spoke to Pharmanews in an exclusive chat, condemned the imbalance in the ratio of imported drugs over indigenously produced ones, adding that, except a drastic step is taken by the government to intervene; the objectives of the National Health Policy would continue to be a mirage.
The PMG-MAN boss also bemoaned the influx of foreign companies into the country’s drug market, noting that the trend could be detrimental to the development of local manufacturers who play crucial roles in fostering self-sufficiency in drug production.
“The influx is not restricted to Indian companies alone; all the European and American companies that left in the 1980s are all back. The South African companies are not left out of the scramble for the lucrative Nigerian market. Local drug manufacture, like food production, should be seen from the security perspective”, he asserted.
Speaking on the need for PMG-MAN members and research institutions to collaborate on herbal studies, he said it had been estimated by WHO that by the year 2030, Nigeria would host about 60 million patients with hypertension as well as 18.6 million with diabetes, in addition to the about one million cancer cases recorded annually, adding that the only key to overcoming the high disease burden is investment in herbal medicines.
“It is high time we challenged our universities and research institutions like NIPRD to collaborate with Nigerian drug manufacturers to focus on this area,” he stressed. “However we must realise that the cost of pharmaceutical research is high and it may cost hundreds of millions of naira to get a drug into the market.”
When asked about PMG-MAN’s efforts to curb the activities of drug counterfeiters, Olaopa noted that the group is self-regulating as prospective members are subjected to the Good Manufacturing Practice Audit before they are admitted. He also added that periodic audits for compliance are regularly carried out to ensure that standards are maintained.
He further hinted on the cordial relationship between NAFDAC and PMG-MAN, which ensures that a manufacturer must belong to the umbrella association before his locally manufactured products can be registered.
He maintained that it is also the duty of members to be whistle-blowers by reporting fake drug manufacturers to NAFDAC which is empowered to enforce applicable laws and prosecute violators.