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Pharmacists to FG: Provide intervention funds to boost local drug production

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Some pharmacists have urged the Federal Government to provide pharmaceutical intervention funds to manufacturers to boost local production of drugs.

The pharmacists, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Lagos on Wednesday, said such funds would help manufacturers increase production capacity.

NAN reports that pharmaceutical stakeholders, under the Federation of Nigerian Pharmaceutical Industry Associations, in February, urged the Federal Government to create a N600 billion Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Development Fund at five per cent interest over a minimum tenure of seven to 10 years.

According to the body, the fund will support the local production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, vaccines, critical supply chain interventions; research and development, among others.

The National Chairman of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Wale Oladigbolu, said such a fund should be a long-term intervention to scale up drug production.

Oladigbolu said, “The government needs to put investment down for the pharmaceutical industry and support manufacturers that are able to convert our edible starch to pharmaceuticals starch.

“This intervention is very crucial and vital to transform drug production in the country.

“It should be a long-tenure fund, in such a way that beneficiaries won’t be under pressure to pay back, and it must be made available to manufacturers and also retailers who need support”.

He added that the government must also make health insurance effective to relieve Nigerians of the high costs of medicine.

Oladigbolu said, “If health insurance works well, nobody will care about the increase in the price of drugs when you pay only 10 per cent for both treatment and drugs at the hospital.

“South Africa with a population of less than 60 million with a pharmaceutical industry worth over $3 billion because their health insurance is very effective.

“Nigeria, with a population of over 200 million, can only boost a pharmaceutical industry worth over $1 billion. Government needs to ensure that health insurance works because healthcare should not be based on whether people can afford it or not, it should be a fundamental human right”.

The immediate-past chairman of ACPN, Lagos Chapter, Lawrence Ekhator, said such an intervention fund was critical to the enhancement of the pharmaceutical industry.

Ekhator said: “The pharmaceutical industry needs a long-term fund at a good interest rate to enable local manufacturers to increase their output.

“Secondly, the importation of active pharmaceutical ingredients still attracts some duties that we hope will be removed or reduced to the nearest minimum.

“The number one component in manufacturing is energy cost; when you consider the amount manufacturers spend on diesel, it is disheartening. The government must do something urgently to address these issues”.

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