To boost the nation’s economy, encourage drug development and improve healthcare infrastructure, Nigeria must embrace and fully exploit opportunities available in the clinical trial enterprise – a multi-billion dollar industry that is expected to reach 1.3 trillion Dollars (USD) by 2020, the Association for Good Clinical Practice in Nigeria (AGCPN), has said.
The AGCPN made the submission during the recent First All Africa Clinical Trial Summit, held at The Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, with the theme: “Next Frontier for Growth & Revolution in Clinical Trials: Africa is Ready.”
The association stated that Nigeria must make every effort to become a significant global player in the clinical trial industry as observations from emerging economies have shown that the industry is capable of empowering the health sector and drive research and development (R&D).
Benefits that Nigeria will derive from embracing the clinical trial industry, according to the AGCPN, include: better standard of care for patients, improved health infrastructure, viability of indigenous drug and medical devices industry, more opportunities for capacity building of healthcare providers and generating of specific nation-centric data to drive healthcare policies that are more relevant to the population.
Other benefits are: opportunities for the nation’s population genetics to be taken into consideration in the process of R&D, creation of a vibrant health sector that can drive vibrant health tourism, as well as opportunity for patients to get gold standard drugs that they would never have been able to afford, especially in an ‘out of pocket’ system.
Speaking further during the opening ceremony of the summit organised in collaboration with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration & Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Ifeoma Okoye, chairman of AGCPN said the desire of the association through its Clinical Trial Africa Vision 2020 (CTA Vision 2020) launched in June 2016 was to collaboratively partner with stakeholders, to potentiate its next phase of activities and foster a mutually beneficial collaborative partnership that can help the African region address her triple burden of health priorities, while also providing medical knowledge to healthcare professionals.
While noting that the CTA Vision 2020 was an advocacy vehicle to influence the political will of African governments to drive clinical trials and promote Africa as a leading destination for clinical trials globally, Prof. Okoye added that Africans at home and in diaspora have come to the conclusion that the low volume of drug research and development is counterproductive to the vision of a healthy Africa.
Also speaking at the event, Mrs Yetunde Oni, acting director general, NAFDAC, said that NAFDAC was ready to support stakeholders involved in clinical trials but urged them to carry the agency along from the beginning of such trials.
The DG NAFDAC, who was the keynote speaker at the summit’s opening ceremony, while bemoaning the problems Nigeria had to contend with before getting vaccines during the last polio outbreak, reiterated that it is high time for the nation to start producing vaccines locally.
She disclosed that NAFDAC has collaborated with the WHO to produce many guidelines for clinical trials, adding that the agency has all the relevant documents needed to take Nigeria to its destination.
“This is therefore the time to collaborate and build partnership to strengthen capacity building,” the NAFDAC boss said.
The highlight of the occasion was the presentation of award of excellence by AGCPN to some distinguished professionals, including: Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, president, PSN; Prof. Mike O. Ogirima, president, Nigerian Medical Association; Professor Ernest B. Izevbigie, vice chancellor, Benson Idahosa University, Benin City and Prof. Issa Marte Hussaini, a professor of pharmacology, among others.
Dignitaries at the opening ceremony include: Prof. Pat Utomi, a trustee of AGCPN; Prof. Maurice M. Iwu, president of Bioresources Development Group; Pharm. (Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi, managing director, Pharmanews Limited; and Dr Monica Eimunjeze, director, drug evaluation and research, NAFDAC.