Home Health & Living NAFDAC, pharmacists applaud Tinubu’s order on healthcare products

NAFDAC, pharmacists applaud Tinubu’s order on healthcare products

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Pharmacists and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) have lauded President Bola Tinubu for signing an Executive Order to increase local production of healthcare products.

The pharmacists who spoke in different interviews with The PUNCH on Saturday also preferred other policies the government can implement to strengthen local pharmaceutical capacity and the industry.

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Muhammad Pate on Friday announced on X handle that in a transformative move to revitalise the Nigerian health sector, President Tinubu signed the executive order to increase local production of healthcare products, including pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, devices such as needles and syringes, biologicals, medical textile, and among others.

Pate said the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Prince Lateef Fagbemi is to take the next steps towards codifying the new order.

According to Pate, the order is pivotal to the success of the Presidential Initiative for Unlocking the Healthcare Value Chain, which was approved in October 2023 by the President.

He explained that the order introduces zero tariffs, excise duties, and VAT on specified machinery, equipment, and raw materials, aiming to reduce production costs and enhance our local manufacturers’ competitiveness. Specified items include Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, excipients, and other essential raw materials required for manufacturing crucial health products like drugs, syringes, needles, Long-lasting Insecticidal Nets, and Rapid Diagnostic Kits, among others.

The order also provides market-shaping mechanisms such as framework contracts and volume guarantees, to encourage local manufacturers. The Order mandates collaboration between the Ministers of Health, Finance, Industry, Trade and Investment to develop a Harmonised Implementation Framework, expediting regulatory approvals and reducing bottlenecks.

“Agencies including the Nigeria Customs Service, NAFDAC, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, and the Federal Inland Revenue Service will ensure swift implementation, with special waivers and exemptions effective for two years.

“The implication of this order is to pivot towards market-based incentives to encourage medical industrialization, reducing costs of medical products through import substitution over time, creating and retaining economic value, and enabling job creation in the healthcare value chain.

“We thank Mr President for his courage and commitment to ensure Nigeria is put back on the path to prosperity. We also thank all who contributed to the ideas that culminated in the consensus that resulted in this key milestone”, Pate wrote.

While commending President Tinubu on the executive order, the National Chairman of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, Adewale Oladigbolu said the executive order would stabilise the prices of drugs after a while.

The Director of Enforcement at the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, Stephen Esumobi said the order was a good development in the country and it will improve capacity utilisation of local pharmaceutical industries leading to increased employment opportunities in the pharmaceutical sector.

“It will reduce the cost of production of medicines leading to lower prices. Also, it will improve the availability of essential medicines

“By the time the benefits start rolling in, the president can decide to extend it. This is a very good development for our nation”, he told The PUNCH.

On his part, a former President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Ahmed Yakasai said the signed order is a step taken in the right direction.

Yakasai, who is also an Advisor to the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority said the journey ahead is one of resilience, innovation, and collaboration.

He said there is a need to harness collective strengths to build a thriving ecosystem of local pharmaceutical manufacturing that caters to the needs of our people and beyond.

The renowned pharmacist noted, “The path ahead is not without its obstacles. We must address infrastructural challenges, streamline bureaucratic processes, and foster a conducive business environment. We must invest in research and development, empower local entrepreneurs, and cultivate a skilled workforce.

“Moreover, we must prioritise sustainability, ensuring that our local manufacturing processes are environmentally friendly and socially responsible. However, amidst these challenges lie unprecedented opportunities. By investing in local production of APIs and Excipients for our local and international pharmaceutical manufacturing, we can create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and reduce our reliance on imports”.

In a statement on Saturday, the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye noted that the order was vital for the success of the Nigeria Health Sector Renewal Investment Initiative, which addresses longstanding challenges and aims to improve health outcomes for Nigerians.

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