In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, Managing Director, Nigerian Army Drug Manufacturing Company (NADMACO), Colonel Laban Daniel Buba, expresses the readiness of the Nigerian Army to enhance the local capacity of the country to produce in large scale, drug for the Nigerian army and sister services, as well as the general public.
Buba, a pharmacist and fellow of the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists (WAPCP), ventilates the yearnings of indigenous pharmaceutical manufacturers in the country, calling on the government to improve on the patronage of local products and the formulation of friendly policies. Excerpts:
Tell us about the operations of NADMACO
The Nigerian Army Drug Manufacturing Company (NADMACO) Limited is a limited liability company incorporated in 1994 and started commercial production in September 1998.
NADMACO drugs are know for their quality, safety and efficacy. NADMACO manufactures antimalarials, antibiotics analgesics/antipyretics, non steroidal anti-inflamatory drugs, anti-hypertensives, cardio-protective drugs, supplements and first aids kits.
At the inception of the company, we started with four product lines, namely, Nabco, Naramin, Nacemol, and Navic. Over the years, the capacity of the company was improved upon and our product lines systematically kept on increasing. Today, we are having a product range of over 20 products and still look forward to expanding.
What informed the decision of the Nigerian army to establish NADMACO?
First and foremost, drugs are the pivot of the medical healthcare delivery system; so the importance it plays was one of the reasons for the establishment of NADMACO. Also, the menace of faking and adulteration in the West African sub-region and even beyond has become a burden on the healthcare sector, and the Nigerian Army wanted to be very sure that our drug supplies were from well-organised and qualitative source. This is why the company was established, primarily to produce drugs for the Nigerian Army and sister services – that is members of the Nigerian armed forces.
Today, we have gone beyond supplying the Nigerian army and sister services and we have started getting our drugs even to the general public. We started as a small scale drug manufacturing company, as it was then known as NASDMU (Nigerian Army Small Scale Drugs Manufacturing Company). After achieving some level of growth, our production capacity increased. This informed the decision to seek a change of name from NASDMU to NADMACO. This was initiated in 2017 and we got the approval in February 2018.
Can you break down your product lines into ranges?
Our product lines cover antimalarials, antibiotics, supplements, analgesics and anti-inflammatory. We also produce first aid kit. Our flagship products are Nartel, which is our Artemeter and Lumefantrim combination for malaria; and Nacemol, which is our brand of paracetamol.
Talking about drug faking, what are you doing to ensure that your products are not faked?
As regards protecting the quality of our products, we take our packaging very seriously and we engrave our names on the products. Of course, we are careful about the distributors we are dealing with. We have done this and many more to safeguard our products from being faked.
Are your distribution confined only to members of the armed forces?
When we started, primarily, our products were for the consumption of the Nigerian army and sister services, but over the years, as we kept expanding our capacity, we started selling to the paramilitary, the Customs, DSS, Nigeria Immigration Services and so on.
We have even gone beyond that. Now even the general public patronise us, although on a small level because of capacity; we are planning to do more. The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General T.Y. Buratai, has been very supportive and is providing the necessary backing for us to achieve that. His leadership has been unprecedented in helping us to achieve our goals. His professional and focused leadership encourages the business ventures of the Nigerian Army to be growing. We are hoping to achieve this expansion very soon.
Is NADMACO a member of the PMG-MAN and what do you think the government should do to enhance local pharmaceutical manufacturing?
NADMACO has been fully registered with all the drug regulatory agencies, including the National Agency for Foods Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Pharmacist’s Council of Nigeria (PCN) and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN). The company’s products have also been recognised as having met the highest standard achievable.
Talking about what the government should do, we need the government to encourage more local manufacturers by protecting the country from indiscriminate importation of drugs. If you want the local manufacturing industries to grow, there should be strict control on imported finished products through appropriate taxing procedures and other series of control that will make only the necessary products that are not locally produced come in.
We can’t produce all our drug needs locally but if what we produce locally is being replicated overseas, because of cheaper labour, facilities, and power over there, then we can’t be in competition. So those control measures should be directed at ensuring that only the needed products that are not being produced by local manufacturers are allowed to be imported from overseas.
If you don’t encourage local manufacturers, we will lose foreign exchange and be a consuming nation. That is not the way to grow the economy.
Is NADMACO into partnership with any local or foreign organisation?
Talking about partnership, we can’t be an island unto ourselves. We are into partnership with some institutions. Even recently, an offer came in and we are looking at the factors and trying to make cost-benefits analysis of it to see what the potentials are.
In what way do you think government can curb the menace of drug counterfeiting?
Government can do a lot. Apart from the fact that we have a lot of enabling legal provisions and laws that provide sanctions for such unacceptable practices, the laws themselves need to be strong to serve as a proper deterrent to offenders involved in faking and adulteration. Some of the laws have been there for long, and so sanctions attached to them are not quite tight. There is need to review some of those laws to strengthen the sanction that comes with such offences because fake drugs are killer drugs. We should proffer sanctions that reflect the seriousness of what faking is all about. Some of the laws need to be strengthened.
Where would you like to see NADMACO in the next few years?
We hope to see NADMACO maintain a steady growth in terms of production capacity and by implication increase our sales and profit margin. We are even looking at expanding towards liquid preparations. As at now, the kind of liquid preparations that we have is powder for reconstitution. Serious consideration has gone into that. We have done cost estimate; we have done a lot of feasibility studies including designs of the new structure to be built. We have done all the drawings and bills of quantities are already sorted out.
Meanwhile, it is funding sources that we are looking at; so we expect more patronage from the general public. The quality of our products are not in doubt and the motto of our company is “quality is our command.” Safety and efficacy are the hallmarks of our products, and of course, quality is not negotiable at NADMACO.
By Adebayo Oladejo & Moses Dike