Local pharmaceutical companies poised to boost medicine production with exit of foreign firms: PMG-MAN

The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN) says local pharmaceutical manufacturers are poised to leverage the lacuna created by the exit of foreign pharmaceutical companies to boost medicine production.

Oluwatosin Jolayemi, Chairman (PMG-MAN) and Managing Director of Daily-Need Industries Ltd., said this in an interview with journalists on Saturday in Lagos.

Pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Nigeria Ltd., exited the country due to challenges with foreign exchange, ease of doing business, multiple taxes, and the importation bureaucracy, among others.

Mr Jolayemi said that the industry was ready, noting that between six and 11 pharmaceutical factories were poised to produce products that GSK, Sanofi and other pharmaceutical companies had produced.

“Maybe there are some SKUs (stock-keeping units) that we do not have capacity for. The ones that we have capacity for, which is the bulk of what they bring into the country, we are ready for.

“But the issue is that medicine is not just like sewing clothes or buying shoes. There is a process for manufacturing medicine.

“But we are ready in the industry because we have between six and 11 factories that are poised to produce those products that GSK, Sanofi and others have. And because most of these products are generic, we are poised to produce them,” he said.

He emphasised that the government must have a policy statement and be deliberate to ensure local pharmaceutical companies fill the gaps and thrive through an enabling environment and business-friendly regulation.

“Either the government or NAFDAC has to be able to take advantage and let the local industry take advantage of the lacuna.

“And give priorities so that the prices of drugs, particularly these antibiotics, could come down.

“But, as long as we are still holding on to the bottlenecks, the problem continues to linger, and the cost of medicines remains high,” he said.

On bottlenecks that should be addressed, Mr Jolayemi cited issues with regulation and the process of registration.

“We are not asking for the standard to be dropped. We are just asking that we work together in the interest of the populace and see how we can begin to make these products available.

“Because these products are generic, they are not rocket science. They are not new molecules. They are old molecules that have been on the market for 20–30 years.

“So, this is something that we could always work around, but it is left to the government and NAFDAC to decide,” he said.

But we are ready in the industry because we have between six and 11 factories that are poised to produce those products that GSK, Sanofi and others have. And because most of these products are generic, we are poised to produce them.

Cost of medicine

Speaking on the rising cost of medicine, Mr Jolayemi attributed it to fluctuating foreign exchange rates, indiscriminate customs tariff regimes, high electricity tariffs and operating costs, among others.

He stressed that it was cheaper to produce locally, noting that active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and excipients are mostly imported by manufacturers.

Mr Jolayemi disclosed that a German company and another consortium are currently investing in API manufacturing.

“They are doing the formal analysis. And we hope that if those ones come on board, they cannot supply all the APIs that are required in the industry.

“But at least they will be able to take care of the usual regular ones that are common to use in the industry,” he said.

The Chairman urged the federal government to assist manufacturers with soft loans and grants to boost production, as done by the governments of India and China.

“The government needs to encourage pharmaceutical companies because APIs and medicine are national issues.

“The government needs to see healthcare as a national policy and begin to take it like that because if you have hospitals, no matter how beautiful your hospitals are, if there are no medicines, the hospital just becomes a consulting unit,” he said.

Mr Jolayemi emphasised that the government must prioritise healthcare, especially medicine production, availability and affordability for its citizens. (NAN)

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