The Association of Pharmaceutical Importers of Nigeria (APIN) has once again warned of an imminent scarcity and increase in the price of medicament in Nigeria.
APIN, in a statement signed by its President, Pharm. (Sir) Nnamdi Obi, Technical Director, Pharm. Kennedy C. Izunwa and Secretary, Barrister Chinweze Ukwuoma, warned that except the government reconsiders its plan to start charging 20 per cent import duty on imported pharmaceutical products as published in its recent circular tagged ‘Import Adjustment Tax,’ Nigerians should brace up for tougher times especially as it concerns availability and affordability of medicament.
APIN said that 80 per cent of medicament consumed in Nigeria are imported because issues of policy somersault, multiple taxation and lack of requisite infrastructure have over the years inhibited the growth of local pharmaceutical manufacturing companies.
The drug importers said that while just two states in India, Maharashtra and Gujarat have close to 10,000 pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, the whole of Nigeria has only 300 drug manufacturing companies, 25 per cent of which are moribund.
APIN argued that in addition to the return of the 20 per cent import duty disguised under the Import Adjustment Tax, contrary to the ECOWAS CET recommendation which Nigeria started implementing in 2013, pharmaceutical importers will still have to pay Nigeria’s high port charges and VAT, which will result in high cost of medicines.
APIN therefore urged the federal government to do more extensive consultation and building of synergy between policy formulators and private sector practitioners in all fields, noting that the association decides to intervene and lend a patriotic voice to this issue because the looming scarcity and high cost of drugs will do no one any good.
The APIN also said that even though the government means well by its quest to raise money to battle the recession, this should not be at the expense of Nigerians, considering that the country has no welfare system to help the people.
APIN also wondered why Nigeria is increasing import duty on imported pharmaceuticals by 20 per cent, while all its neighbouring countries are still on zero per cent duty, in addition to lower port charges.
The APIN said that aside from the fact that this policy will make the price of medicaments to soar, the policy can also push dubious businessmen to start importing drugs through neighbouring countries and bribe land border agents or use the unorthodox route and bring in the products for higher profit.
They warned that if this becomes the norm, dealers in fake drugs would resurface and start killing Nigerians to make money.