Usifoh, Kunle, others highlight significance of academia-industry collaboration

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L-R: Professor Gloria Ayoola; Dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lagos; Professor Olobayo Kunle, keynote speaker; Dr Margaret Ilomuanya, principal investigator, MedAfrica GMP Lab project; Pharm.(Sir) Ike Oyechi, managing director, Alpha Pharmacy & Stores; and Pharm. Taiwo Filusi, PCN director, Lagos office.

Stakeholders in the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry have highlighted the significance of the continuous collaboration between the academia and the industry in stimulating growth of the local pharma manufacturing sector, especially in the area of product development. They made these contributions during the Maiden Seminar Series of the Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology in the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lagos, on Tuesday 28 May, 2024.

Welcoming guests to the Maiden Seminar Series, the Dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lagos, Professor Gloria Ayoola, said the opening of the MEDAFRICA GMP laboratory was a testimony to the culture of excellence and innovation of the Pharmacy Faculty, in particular and the University of Lagos, in general.

Prof. Gloria Ayoola, said the inauguration of a Maiden Seminar Series in the Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology and the official opening of the MedAfrica GMP Lab marks a significant milestone in the history of the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lagos. She said the GMP facility is proof of UNILAG’s commitment to bridging the gap between academic research and practical industry innovations.

L-R: Pharm. (Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi, publisher, Pharmanews: Distinguished Prof. Cecilia Igwilo and Engr. Kelvin Igwilo, with other participants at the event.

“Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) is the backbone of the pharmaceutical industry,” she stated. “It ensures that products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards. This state-of-the-art laboratory will provide our students and researchers with the necessary tools and environment to engage in cutting-edge research, foster innovation, and uphold the highest standards of pharmaceutical manufacturing.”

Keynote speaker, Professor Olobayo Kunle of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), while speaking on the theme: “Academia-industry collaboration: A case for purpose driven research through product development in line with cGmp specifications,” emphasised the importance of the academia-industry partnership as he stressed the need for the academia to engage in cutting-edge research that would lead to the development of new products or the improvement of existing ones.

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“Academia-industry collaboration should be purpose-driven and aimed at the development of medicines and pharmaceutical products. A number of products are the direct result of academic research. Practically, all depend on the principles developed and validated by academic R&D. The product is more likely to come out of industry research labs.

Pharm. (Mrs) Uzoma Ezeoke, executive director, Emzor Pharmaceuticals: Pharm. Kenneth Onuegbu, national chairman, NAIP; and Dr Arinola Joda, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lagos.

“Development is the conversion of the science that is discovered into a useful product with commercial value. It can be new to a company. It can lead to the improvement of existing products, extension of product line or new to the market. It combines research, design, creation, testing, marketing and sales of new products or the modification and improvement of existing ones,” he said.

In order for the academia-industry collaboration to yield the desired results, Professor Kunle further stressed the need for stakeholders to build capacity that would enable the academia and the industry to connect and enhance the movement of technology from the laboratory to commercial scale.

“It is important that we build capacity to connect academic research and industry for seamless flow of knowledge. We need facilitate the movement of technology from lab to commercial scale, connect education with the innovation ecosystem, build academia-industry co-development partnerships thus breaking down boundaries and silos and building synergies, increased human capital with the right attitude, while encouraging and facilitating discovery-based translational research towards application,” he added.

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Earlier during her welcome address, the Vice- Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Folasade Ogunsola, thanked the President of MEDAFRICA Foundation and Chief Founder/funder of the GMP laboratory, Mr Martey Jaiven, for his visionary role in ensuring that the University of Lagos became the first in sub-Saharan Africa to have a GMP laboratory. She also used the opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of the university towards creating an enabling environment for learning and research.

“We are very pleased to welcome you today to the official opening of the MEDAFRICA GMP laboratory which is domiciled here in the Faculty of Pharmacy and also to the first departmental annual seminar series.

“The theme of this seminar series is in tandem with our vision as a university – to provide a conducive environment for teaching, research, learning and development where staff and students will interact and compete effectively with their counterparts in the world.

“I welcome the founder and funder, Mr Martey Jeiven, President MEDAFRICA Foundation. I salute your vision in partnering with the University of Lagos and I can assure you that this partnership will only yield great and positive dividends. I am sure you are just starting your journey with the university,” she said.

President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Professor Cyril Usifoh, while emphasising the need for endless collaboration between the academia and the industry, lauded the contribution of industry players like Pharm. Ike Onyechi towards the actualisation of the GMP project. He also encouraged more women to aspire to positions of responsibility and excellence, just as the Acting HOD of the department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology Ilomaunya has done by actualising the establishment of the GMP laboratory in her faculty.

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“Whatever Margaret has achieved is just the starting point. There are many more frontiers to be covered”, he added.

During the panel discussion, National Chairman of the Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria (NAIP), Pharm. Kenneth Onuegbu, further harped on the need for the academia and industry to continue to collaborate as such a development would augur well for the local pharma manufacturing sector.

“For us as NAIP, I believe the only way we can come out of this quagmire and have medicine security is through industrialisation, research and proper collaboration between the industry and the university and we have already started doing that.

“That is why we started this journey long time ago. What happened during the COVID era was an eye opener for us. You could see countries like India stopping the delivery of essential drugs and APIs.

“I can assure you that if we can sustain and build on what we have today or replicate what we have in the University of Lagos in one or two other places, we can start competing with some of the giants like China, India, the United States and Great Britain. We should be discussing how the major industry players in Nigeria can come together and raise funds for the establishment of another GMP laboratory,” he said.

 

 

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