As a means of curbing the spread of vaccines preventable diseases like Lassa fever, Monkeypox, Cerebro Spinal Meningitis (CSM) Yellow fever, etc., the Director General, National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) Dr Obi Peter Adigwe, has emphasised the need to effectively harness the huge medical plants resources available in the country, for local vaccines production.
Dr Adigwe, who noted that Nigeria has significant medical plants resources to boost local vaccines production, even in Africa, said “Nigeria has over a third of all medicines manufacturing plants on the continent. We also have the highest number of relevant international quality certifications and awards in this part of the world”.
The NIPRD boss made the submission in an exclusive interview with Pharmanewsonline.com, while stating however that, the huge natural resources of the Nigerian Pharmaceutical Sector have not been effectively leveraged on due to lack of articulation and implementation of relevant policies to stimulate local vaccines production.
His words: “Local vaccines production to address local diseases is the ultimate aim of any nation with robust strategies to address healthcare challenges. Unfortunately, despite the great potential of the Nigerian Pharmaceutical Sector, relevant policies, partnerships have not either been articulated or implemented to stimulate local vaccines production”.
Adigwe, who narrated how he has been in the fore-front of this advocacy for a couple of years, revealed how his efforts, even before his appointment as the DG, brought about the six billion naira agreement which the Federal Government signed with a local manufacturer to produce vaccines in Nigeria.
While explaining that it is not yet uhuru, as the local vaccines are not ready for use, and upon realisation that NIPRD is statutorily charged with research and development of vaccines and related products, he said since his assumption of office, he and his directors have actively begun to look at developing the relevant competencies to comprehensively support this emergent sector.
Aside vaccines production, the NIPRD DG also mentioned some steps his leadership is taking to impact the industry meaningfully, such as the compilation of a Pharma Colloquium, which is intended to bring together all relevant stakeholders in the industry to chart a formidable way towards developing a sustainable pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.
“Some of the areas that we would be looking at include: harmonising and consolidating researcher and stakeholders participation towards local production of medicines; improving the policy milieu to support local manufacturing; and promotion of indigenous production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) and excipients.
“That being said, I would like to place it on record that there are over 500 importers in the Nigerian Pharma Industry who also play key roles in the National Ecosystem, especially since the country cannot currently produce all the medicines and commodities it consumes. It should be understood that access to medicines is key, and therefore drugs that are not produced in sufficient quantities, or at all, must be imported.
“ As such NIPRD engages with these important stakeholders in the ecosystem to ensure that while local capacity is being built to satisfy local consumption, importers can fill the gap by ensuring that the population has access to safe, affordable and high quality medicines”, he stated.