The Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Mahesh Sachdev, has challenged members of Indian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Importers in Nigeria (IPMIN) to leverage on their success in the pharmaceutical sector by expanding their territories to include building of specialist hospitals in the country.
Speaking at the annual general meeting of the body, which took place at the Indian High Commission in Victoria Island, Lagos, on Saturday, 8th December, 2012, Sachdev remarked that, with the level of success IPMIN has achieved so far, he has no doubt they can leverage on it by constructing hospitals and deploying medical personnel to it from India.
“I have been saying this for quite some time now and I want IPMIN to take it seriously. Building specialist hospitals should put a stop to about 20 million Nigerians rushing for visas to get treatment in India,” he noted.
The High Commissioner further explained that when one adds the stress of getting a visa to travel abroad to the high cost of transportation, consumables and other logistics, it is not usually a good story to tell.
“This is why I said we need to leverage on this. To maintain our lead, although there is no competition, we need to bring the desired product to the end users here in Nigeria. There are resources, and of course, there is the needed exposure too,” he declared.
On the issue of corporate social responsibility, Sachdev informed the gathering that new products are required for the humanitarian cause.
He equally charged the Indian community to make their contribution impact positively on the public.
The amiable ambassador exclaimed that it was quite fascinating to see how the pharmaceutical sector has metamorphosed in Nigeria, in the space of just three years, adding that Indian success in eradicating Polio has set a standard on the kind of role Nigeria should have.
On a sad note, Sachdev announced that a number of Indian Pharmaceutical companies have been banned in September, following complaints that they were involved in importation of substandard products.
He recalled a particular case in 2009, when they were implicated, following the seizure of some consignments of fake drugs, supposedly brought into the country by Indians. It took a lot of effort and thorough investigations by the authorities involved to discover that the consignments were actually imported by some Chinese, with the aid of some dubious businessmen.
“Since then, we have been trying to protect our integrity and stay away from such practice. But so far, I am glad to inform you that faking has reduced drastically, to a large extent. This enables me to justify my honouring your invitation because of your effort so far,” he said.
In response to his appeal, Udani Anil, chief medical director of Mecure Healthcare, who is also one of the newly sworn-in executive members of IPMIN, confirmed that his company is already working on starting two hospitals, to take care of cancer management and other oncology-related cases.
Buttressing the High Commissioner’s position, Mr Varkey Verghese, president of IPMIN, reiterated that the group is committed to bringing in only quality drugs into Nigeria.
“The relationship between India and Nigeria is quite cordial. We contribute to internal revenue, create employment opportunities, foster peace, as well as good friendly relations. I want to urge my fellow pharmaceutical manufacturers to improve on their production in Nigeria, to meet up with the standard of good manufacturing practice,” he canvassed.
Also in attendance were director-general of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr Paul Orhi; Joginder Lalwani, permanent chairman, Pharm Nnamdi Obi; Association of Pharmaceutical Importers of Nigeria (APIN) and Pharm Kennedy Izunwa, technical director of APIN.
Others were Ashwin Dayacani, 1st Vice President; Rajo Kotthmdi, 2nd Vice President; Prashant Banerjee, Secretary and Kunle Okelola, Executive Secretary, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN).
Appreciating the Indian High Commission, the NAFDAC boss said that he wished all ambassadors are like him, because he hardly sleeps.
“I recalled the first time we came in contact in 2009, he met me with a hug. But as he said, it was at a period when people generally believed that Indians are drug fakers.
“But he challenged me to work together with him to expose people behind the counterfeiting. He was quite helpful and, as we can see today, the story has changed,” he emphasised.