-Calls for a business friendly NAFDAC; capacity building in the industry
For the Nigerian Pharmaceutical Industry to easily recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, prominent industry players have stressed the need for expansion of local manufacturing, credible collaboration, leveraging technology, and boosting capacity, as major determinants of the recovery speed of the industry.
The industry experts including Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi; president, Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy; Pharm. (Mazi) Sam Ohuabunwa, president, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN); Fidelis Ayebae, chairman, PMGMAN; Pharm. Olakunle Oyelana, mamaging director, GSK Nigeria; Dr Lolu Ojo, former chairman, NAIP; Dr Ignatius Anukwu, chairman, Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria (NAIP); Santosh Kumar, managing director at WWCVL -Imperial Logistics; Dr Solomon Aigbavboa; among others, were the speakers at the NAIP webinar held on Saturday, 6 June 2020.
They maintained that although the effects of the pandemic was heavy on the pharmaceutical industry, but it will go a long way in placing the sector at an advantage if stakeholders can leverage experiences gathered during the period to expand local production of essential medicines, excipients, find areas of commonality for sharing knowledge and capacity, while embracing more digital operations.
In his presentation titled: ”Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on field force management and productivity”, Santosh Kumar x-rayed pharma distribution from pre COVID-19 to during and after, saying there was a lot of productivity and less activities during this period, which is a pointer to the importance of a technologically driven marketing strategy.
From his experience during the pandemic, he urged stakeholders to strike a balance in meeting demand digitally and physically.” As a distribution company, we are already embracing digital distribution of drugs with applications that are well designed for demand fulfilment and generation
“Future belongs to companies that will embrace technology and collaboration, because that is going to be the game-changer in field force management”, he said.
Also speaking at the webinar, Dr Lolu Ojo expressed optimism on the current global situation, saying although there is a looming global economic recession, but the case is not hopeless for Nigeria Pharma sector, if practitioners can latch on the abundant human and natural resources in the nation to bounce back from the bad economic resources.
Describing Nigeria as a beautiful bride of all investors, endowed with human and natural resources, he said: “the situation is not hopeless for the nation, because we can turn COVID-19 to a stream of opportunities”.
However, for this prosperous future to be a reality in the post COVID-19 era, he said all limitations to pharma manufacturing pre COVID-19, such as multiple taxation, dearth of human resources, and unfavourable regulations must be taken away.
“We need a NAFDAC with the right attitude to pharma business, a NAFDAC that will be an advocate for the industry, for instance the case of HS code. Manufacturers must be willing to share knowledge and resources through credible collaboration.
“Government is owing pharma businesses huge amount up to the tune of N20 billion, while this is tying down their business capital, and making growth impossible”, he said among other things.
In his contribution, the PSN president said the pandemic is an opportunity for the industry to be exposed, as it’s the first time the country gave attention to the pharma industry, and really felt the importance of pharmacy and roles of pharmacists in healthcare.
He urged local manufacturers to take advantage of the N100 billion loan facility provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria for the industry, saying the Society is monitoring the disbursement of the facility from CBN and outside CBN to prevent any fowl play
“Take opportunity that have been created for us through the provision of the N100 billion loan facility provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria for the industry. From PSN, we will continue to put these issues in the front burner.
“We will continue to push for funding, some have gotten and others are applying. We are monitoring the disbursement of the loan, as we are receiving information from CBN and outside CBN.
“Critical industry initiative; developing local solution to COVID-19 is paramount this period. So it important we get into research for the development of excipients. The industry needs to identify what it can do on its own. With the CBN loan, we must raise the bar in our capacity production for 30 to 40 0r 50 per cent drug supply for the nation”, Ohuabunwa stated.