Chief Marcel O. Ezeonyeodu (JP), chairman, Marc-Olivia Healthcare Limited, is a distinguished businessman with interest in real estate, financial services and oil and gas sectors of the economy.
The Anambra State born businessman, in this recent interview with Pharmanews in his office in Marina, Lagos, explained how his desire to provide quality and affordable medicines to Nigerians prompted him to establish Marc-Olivia Healthcare two years ago and how the company’s foray into the pharmaceutical sector will herald a new era in the pharmaceutical sub-sector of the health care sector.
He also spoke on how to further strengthen the ongoing war against fake drugs in Nigeria and measures the government should take to boost availability of affordable quality medicines to Nigerians. Excerpts:
Tell us about Marc-Olivia Healthcare Limited. You established this company two years ago after your long years of operating in other industrial sectors like oil and gas and real estate, what prompted this decision?
Yes, Marc–Olivia Healthcare was formally established in 2014, although we had been doing extensive research for some years about the pharmaceutical sector and how we could contribute to its growth for the benefit of Nigeria and Nigerians.
It was our research that led to us to conclude that there were still unmet needs of affordable medicines for over 170 million Nigerians; hence the need to have a company that can provide high quality affordable medicines for Nigerians. That was why we established Marc-Olivia Healthcare Limited.
Marc–Olivia is a science-oriented health care company on a mission to positively influence and impact the health status of our people and enable them to achieve more, feel well and live longer. We are not just going to provide medicines for Nigerians; we are also going to provide other consumer health care products and medical devices that came as a result of long term research and development to suit our local needs.
Our objective is to provide the best, efficacious, affordable pharmaceutical solutions nationwide in a wide range of categories for hospitals, pharmacies, health centers and rural medical centers.
Marc–Olivia’s products are manufactured in state-of-the-art plants that meet World Health Organisation (WHO)’s current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) and the products we already have in the market are approved by NAFDAC and other regulatory authorities.
Tell us about some of these products
Some of these products are Marcferon syrup and capsules, which contains iron, folic acid and vitamin B12. We also have Marcprofen, an Ibuprofen of 400mg caplets, which is for all sorts of pains. We equally have medicines for other therapeutic areas.
We have Ciprofloxacin, Amoxicillin, ampicillin + cloxacillin as well as our own quality ACT antimalarial, Marcolivia 80/480, which is an Arthether with Lumenfantrine. What I can assure you is that these are high quality medicines comparable to the best in their therapeutic areas and they are quite affordable.
What are the short, medium and long term plans of Marc–Olivia?
Our short term plan is already being achieved – and that is to provide quality and affordable medicines for Nigerians. We are achieving that as we already have some quality products approved by NAFDAC in the market.
Our medium and long term plan is to have our own factory. Our company is presently working in partnership with our technical partners to achieve this. In the next three years, we are going to have a state-of-the-art plant where we can manufacture locally. The plan is to facilitate technology transfer from our foreign partners and replicate the world class factories where our drugs are produced abroad here in Nigeria.
Our ultimate and long term plan is to be a leading pharmaceutical company in Nigeria that is not just providing quality medicines but employment to many Nigerians and contributing significantly to the economy.
The present state of the economy, especially the high rate of the dollar is affecting the business climate generally. How much effect is the economic condition having on the pharmaceutical sector and a health care company like yours?
The fact is that the economic condition is affecting all businesses and it is my hope that the economy will rebound very soon because the situation is not good for anybody. However, my advice to the Nigerian government is that they have to take the health sector and the pharmaceutical sub-sector very seriously. The Nigerian government must support companies providing healthcare products to Nigerians and treat them specially because the health of Nigerians is important. In fact, without good health, nothing can be achieved, that is why the saying health is wealth is very apt.
Other developed and even some developing countries provide incentives for their pharmaceutical companies and ensure they are assisted to thrive because they know they are rendering essential services. Nigeria must do the same thing.
Drug counterfeiting is one of the major challenges facing the pharmaceutical sector. NAFDAC has been fighting this menace for years, what are your thoughts on NAFDAC’s effort to fight fake drugs and what other steps can be taken to strengthen the war on fake drugs?
I must commend NAFDAC for the ongoing war on fake drugs in the country. The agency from the time of Prof. Akunyili till now has done a lot to confront the fake drug merchants and this is commendable. However, the fact that there are still fake drugs in the country means more should be done. The agency should block other routes through which these counterfeit medicines are coming into the country.
Still, I must urge NAFDAC to, while acting as a regulator, also act as a business facilitator for genuine and credible investors. They should make the process of registration easier once all that is required for such registration are provided. This is important as the products are for the benefit of Nigerians.