A former President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Olumide Akintayo has asked President Bola Tinubu to implement various reforms recommended in the pharmaceutical sector to boost local drug manufacturing in the country.
He said the pharmaceutical sector is very crucial to the country, noting that it is only drug manufacturers that can add serious value in terms of Gross Domestic Product that can boost the Nigerian economy.
Akintayo also urged Tinubu to urgently look at the various concerns in the pharmaceutical sector and address them if the country is to witness robust local drug manufacturing like India and China.
The former PSN president during an exclusive interview with PUNCH Healthwise, said the country cannot have drug security when local drug manufacturers import Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients and 70 per cent of the country’s drug needs.
The pharmacist held that there is a need for balance between what the country produces and what is consumed.
He said, “In Nigeria today, 70 percent of our drug needs are still imported. Only 30 per cent of essential drugs are manufactured here .That is why President Bola Tinubu should pay attention to the challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry.
“If you want healthcare to be accessible, you cannot do that without drugs. President Tinubu needs to have an adviser on the pharmaceutical sector that will drive a comprehensive range of reforms in drug distribution in Nigeria. We already have the blueprint for a sanitised pharmaceutical sector.
“There is what is called the National Drug Policy which is a document from the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with major donor agencies. We have a new Pharmacy Council of Nigeria Act 2022, which has come up with all the provisions to sanitise drug distribution in Nigeria.
“We also have the National Drug Distribution Guideline approved by the Federal Government of Nigeria since 2015. So, we have everything that we need.
“The problem has always been adequate implementation and enforcement of the totality of all of these policies and laws that we are talking about.”
Akintayo noted that the country was not doing enough in terms of getting value from the pharmaceutical industry, reiterating that the FG in particular has a major role to play in the implementation of the various policies in the pharmaceutical sector, especially to ensure that drug is on the exclusive list
“So, President Tinubu needs to come out with an actionable plan, which is also sustainable by getting a chairman of the reform agenda in the pharmaceutical sector. That person can also double as an adviser to the president in the pharmaceutical sector.
“The pharmaceutical sector is very crucial and that is why the government legislate drug matters. In economic terms, drugs are an essential commodity. It is only drug manufacturers that can add serious value in terms of GDP and boost the Nigerian economy.
“The real sector is the one that continues to suffer in Nigeria and that is why foreign exchange is high, and all this is because we are not producing anything. We are not a productive nation and one of the things we would expect President Tinubu to do is to begin to look at typical industrial revolution in Nigeria, and the pharmaceutical industry must be engendered to be an active part of that”, he said.
Akintayo lamented that the contribution of Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industry to GDP was abysmal compared to other countries like India and China.
He stated, “In countries like India and China, today, you have the pharmaceutical industry that contributes between 2.5 to almost five per cent to GDP. In Nigeria, the contribution of our pharmaceutical industry is something in the range of 0.005 to 0.1 per cent. That is abysmal and that is why the government needs to do a lot more than it is doing.
“The world pharmaceutical market is significant and is a staggering one trillion dollar market. Can you imagine a one trillion-dollar market? Ask me what the market share of Nigeria is; it’s less than two billion dollars.
“Medically, it is even less than 1.5 billion dollars out of an estimated one trillion dollar market. So, we are not doing enough. Unfortunately, drugs are on the exclusive list as I said. The Federal Government, especially has a major role to play to handle all of these. “