By Temitope Obayendo
Honourable Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, has disclosed that the expected developments in the pharmaceutical industry may not be achieved, if stakeholders fail to identify opportunities in the sector or harness its resources for the benefits of the masses and the nation as a whole.
Prof. Chukwu made this remark at the opening ceremony of the Nigeria Pharma Manufacturers Expo 2013, held at the Lagos Television premises, on October 17, 2013. The event was organised by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN) in partnership with GPE Expo Private Limited of India.
The minister, who was represented by Dr. Paul Orhii, DG, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), said it was imperative for PMG-MAN and other stakeholders to have a strategic plan on how to ascertain the potentials of the sector, as well as develop measures to optimise such.
“The current efforts and direction of the key players in this sector does not indicate readiness for the optimisation of the sector,” he noted. “A situation where the difference between manufacturers and importers has become blurred and it is no longer possible to say who is an importer and who is a manufacturer of medicines is not encouraging.”
He has also urged members of PMG-MAN to demonstrate additional capability through the acquisition of new and emerging technology and skills for the production of widely-used products to stimulate government to strengthen the protection of local manufacturers. He highlighted the benefits of investing in new technology and skills to include: additional competency and trust of the consuming public, acceptance of respective companies by companies in other sectors, as well as advancement of research and development through collaboration with the various centres of research in institutes of learning.
Chukwu however commended the PMG-MAN for its resilience in sustaining the programme since commencement in 2008. He also assured members that efforts by companies to achieve WHO prequalification would continue to receive the support of the government.
Speaking on the theme of the exhibition: “Optimising the Potentials of the Nigerian Pharma Sector”, Chief Bunmi Olaopa, chairman PMG-MAN, said pharmaceutical manufacturers in Nigeria had invested over N70 billion naira towards processing the Expression of Interest for WHO-prequalification for their products in the last four years.
Sounding quite optimistic, Olaopa said the investment would soon start yielding results with expected prequalification of some of the products by WHO.
“Going by the huge investment made in the industry in the last four years,” he said, “we expect that as many as five Nigerian pharma manufacturers will have products pre-qualified by the WHO in 2014”.
Olaopa who noted that such products of interest like anti-retroviral drugs, Artemisinin-Combination Therapies (ACTs), Fluconazole capsule, injection and oral rehydration are now locally manufactured, said that, with over 150 manufacturing companies, the nation’s pharmaceutical manufacturing industry has the potential to become a powerhouse in Africa with the capacity to supply regional needs as well as participate in international tenders.