The Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Uyo (UNIUYO), has commenced plans to establish a drug manufacturing section that will produce drugs to meet the needs of the university environment and beyond.
Disclosing this in a recent interview with Pharmanews, Dean of the faculty, Dr Emmanuel E. Attih, said the proposal for setting up the factory had been presented to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nyaudo Ndaeyo, before the commencement of the ongoing Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike.
Assuring that the planning will continue as soon as the strike is over, Attih noted that the faculty already has the machinery and other equipment for the project but still needs a place to install and power them to start working.
The dean also noted that the project has received applause from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Tetfund), adding that the faculty is committed to imparting quality skills and knowledge to students, thereby advancing the pharmaceutical industry.
He equally revealed that the faculty has won some research grants, just as some of the members have also been granted patents in different areas before the strike started.
According to Attih, “Some of the ongoing research works are at the departmental level, though some are in conjunction with the faculty. The faculty recently won a grant from Tetfund on pharmaceutical Chemistry and Pharmacology. Another grant was won on Pharmacognosy and Clinical Chemistry.
“But one thing we were about to do before the strike broke out was to start a drug manufacturing factory. We notified the VC and he asked us to put it into writing which we did and submitted to him. The project is going to be in partnership with Tetfund. As we speak now, we have a lot of equipment but to power the equipment and the actual space for installation is not a small thing”.
The dean expressed appreciation to Prof. Ndaeyo for being “pharmacy-friendly”, adding that the proposal for the drug manufacturing project will be perfected with the VC as soon as the strike is over.
He added: “Tetfund is interested in this kind of project because the body has been exploring every avenue to empower the universities because the universities should also be able to generate funds on their own. With the setting up of the plant, we will be able to produce drugs for local consumption, starting with paracetamol and other over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, until we get to the more advanced drugs.”
Attih expressed optimism that, with the initiative, the faculty will be able to help the country to reduce drug importation, thereby bridging the gap in the availability of local drugs.
“At the beginning, we may not be producing on a large scale but we will first focus on meeting the need of our immediate environment, that is Uyo, the whole of Akwa Ibom State and Cross River State; after which we can begin to extend our reach,” he said.
The dean also said that the faculty is aware of the challenges that are facing drug manufacturing in the country, adding that, notwithstanding, the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) has been encouraging pharmacy schools to start their drug manufacturing programme.
According to him, “Currently, the pharmacy programme is oriented towards clinical pharmacy, but we can’t afford to neglect the actual pharmaceutical production and pharmaceutical technology among other areas. If we neglect these aspects, it is to our own detriment.
“What is more important is how you produce your drug. Some of the students graduating will have to work in a factory; hence, hey need to be exposed to drug production. That does not mean they won’t study for PharmD.”
Attih pointed out that the faculty has already started its PharmD programme, with the first set of students, numbering 84, in 100 level now.
While commending the PCN for the good work it has been doing in the industry, the dean urged the Council to clamp down vigorously on those that are still engaging in sharp and unethical practices in the industry, saying this will ensure that Nigerians can benefit more from pharmaceutical health care.