In this interview with Pharmanews, Dr Wale Adeagbo, the executive director of Pharmaceutical Industry Practitioners’ Association of Nigeria (PIPAN), with over 15 years’ experience in corporate strategy across the public, private and voluntary sectors, speaks on the objectives of PIPAN and why he thinks members of the association can be unified, despite their diverse views. Excerpts:
What prompted your decision to take up the position of executive director?
I have some background in health policy and health governance, plus an academic interest in corporate strategy and social economics. I acted as a policy adviser to a minister in the UK and chaired some health networks in Europe, including the Non-Executive Directors’ Network of the UK NHS Alliance, and the Alliance of Community Oriented Primary Care Organisations, Netherlands (under the aegis of the European Forum for Primary Care).
Taking up this position with PIPAN is a privilege for me. I believe I was chosen for the role as I have a good understanding of the strategic purpose and intent of the organisation and I fully subscribe to the vision and innovative thinking of the founding agencies of PIPAN, especially that of the leadership of the associations that midwifed PIPAN.
Tell us about PIPAN. What are the objectives of the association?
PIPAN was established by NAIP and the following pharmaceutical trade associations: Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Group of the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN); Indian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Importers of Nigeria (IPMIN); Association of Pharmaceutical Importers of Nigeria (APIN); and the Nigerian Representatives of Overseas Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (NIROPHARM).
The objectives of PIPAN are targeted at common industry issues shared by the founding agencies. They include: better knowledge of employees and operatives by carrying out background checks to reduce loss to the industry; developing standardised, professionalised and accredited qualifications for sales reps and some associated roles in the industry; sharing of market /business intelligence that can inform and influence business development; and enabling coordinated approach to policy and practice – at national and international arenas.
You have taken up the task of harnessing an association comprising all practitioners in the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria. Considering how diverse the practitioners are and their various business interests, which sometimes make them competitors, how optimistic are you that PIPAN members can speak with one voice on issues?
I am optimistic about the attainment of unified views and voices in the industry, despite the varied slants of the players. For starters, the establishment of PIPAN emerged through considerable thought processes, engagements and consultations with all key stakeholders; so the objectives and identified tasks are the common issues that challenge the industry. And all the trade associations recognise that these issues will be better tackled if hosted within a shared institutional tent.
Also, the leadership of each agency constitutes the governing board of PIPAN; so there is equal stake in terms of its strategic directions and activities. The governance structure of PIPAN also creates a space for policy and practice debate – which we have called the Governing Council. This will host all stakeholders in discussing common issues and arrive at agreed and consensual solutions to identified issues. The future is in collaboration, not competition, and the industry is well aware of this; hence the establishment of PIPAN is to future-proof the industry’s aspirations.
Since you took over as the executive director, what challenges have you encountered at PIPAN and how have you tackled them?
Noting that the establishment of PIPAN is an institutional solution to current and potential challenges facing the pharma industry, there is the need to constantly remind ourselves of the need for PIPAN and the necessity of all stakeholder agencies/associations to continue to support the organisation. The good news is that the leadership of all the leading agencies – NIROPHARM, APIN, NAIP, PMGMAN, IPMIN – are totally committed to this initiative and they see the challenges that PIPAN confronts as their challenges.
Where do you hope to see PIPAN in the next five to ten years?
I pray that, well before then, PIPAN would have achieved and will be sustaining its core functions. These will entail hosting of a detailed repository of data about sales force and marketing activities in the Nigerian pharma industry, so that we know what we sell/distribute, where we sell/distribute to, what we import, and what we manufacture – all this is to enable us ascertain how we can improve the health and well-being of Nigerians, while publicising the trends and developments of the industry.
By then, PIPAN would have birthed a full-fledged academy that will ensure the capacity development of the industry and provide certified and accredited courses for the field workers and associated employees. Working in partnership with mainstream associations, PIPAN would have become the clearing house of and for industry policy – at the national and international arenas.