The President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) Prof. Cyril Usifoh, has called on the Federal Government to rally support for domestic drug production in the country, as the dwindling economy is biting local manufacturers harder.
He has also charged policy makers in the healthcare sector with the responsibility of formulating policies to mitigate economic losses after the exit of multinationals from the country.
Prof. Usifoh, who spoke with Pharmanewsonline in an exclusive interview on the current trend of global pharmaceuticals’ exit from the shores of the land, said they have the right to leave, but if they want their products to remain in the Nigerian market, they must strike clear agreement with local pharma companies for domestication.
He stated: “International pharmaceutical companies operating in Nigeria should have a right to free entry and free exit. They can choose to stay while the business environment is favourable and decide to leave when it becomes adverse. That is their prerogative as a business.
“However, I take a simple stand to this: You can exit the country, but if you want your products to remain in the market, you will have to find a local manufacturing partner, with a clear path towards domestication.
“It is the responsibility of Nigerian policy makers to mitigate the losses the country will face because of such business departures. That is also only possible when they put the best interest of the country in the fore”.
The PSN president decried the present state of medicine insecurity in the country, where the nation cannot boast of independent, self-sufficient supply of any particular class of essential drugs, due to gaps created by the departure of global pharma manufacturers without corresponding local replacement.
He further argued that these gaps exist not because of lack of human and indigenous resources, but due to limited good will from government in support of domestic drug production. As soon as government throws its weight behind local manufacturers, he said all gaps will be bridged.
“One obvious case is the pharmaceutical sector where there is no one class of essential drugs where the country has independent, self-sufficient supply. It is not for want of human capital or willing entrepreneurs, all of which the country has in abundance. What seems to be lacking is government support for domestic drug production.
“When the likes of GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi depart, they leave a yawning manufacturing gap that is not filled. Instead, they withdraw to other jurisdictions from which they still target the Nigerian market with their products without giving anything back.
“This is why it is imperative for a policy that insists on local collaboration as a condition for continued market access.
“Insisting on such collaboration will provide a win-win option for the departing manufacturer, the local partners, the health and the economy of the country. It also ensures there is no loss of capacity while encouraging the accumulation of local capacity and expertise”, he maintained.
He asserted that doing otherwise will undermine all professed intentions and efforts by the government to boost industrial capacity utilisation, cut back on imported finished goods and save both jobs and foreign exchange. This places the ball squarely in the court of policy makers.