Coronavirus a challenge to Nigerian pharmacy and manufacturing




Vitamin A is an essential micronutrient in drug manufacturing and for human and animal nutrition. China and India are main sources for the Nigerian market.

Since January, India stopped the export of vitamins of all types from their market. Their government restricted it to their home market. The prices of vitamins have since gone through the roof.

Generally, drug prices have risen more than 60 percent since the beginning of the year. The rapid increase did not strike most people until citizens began stocking up for the lock-downs.

“Beneficiary companies include Emzor Pharmaceuticals, Fidson Drugs, GSK, May & Baker, Unique Pharma, Swiss Pharma, Neimeth, Sagar, Orange Drugs, and Dana Pharma.”

It exposed the failure as well as the threat of the Nigerian situation. Nigeria depends wholly on imports for pharmaceutical raw materials as well as finished products. It is a national security threat.

Nigeria must see this Threat as an Opportunity following SWOT and PEST analysis of our situation. Our strength remains a huge market for all manner of products and services. It means that local manufacturing of these pharmaceutical and other products has a high probability of success. Indeed, Nigeria is known as the land of double returns.

The Weakness is the absence of enablers in policy, infrastructure, research and the ecosystem that supports manufacturing and local production. Rather than improve, Nigeria has deteriorated over the years. Many firms voted with their feet against our strength because the weaknesses became an existential threat.

The political, economic, social and technological areas of our life point to opportunities and threats. As in the other, optimists and realists alike see more opportunities than threats. We should interrogate them, explore and exploit for national competitiveness.

We should create and deploy various enablers. One of the remarkable and encouraging ones is the policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria offering financial incentives to pharmaceutical manufacturing firms.

We commend specially the intervention of the Central Bank and the Bankers Committee for the financial support promised pharmaceutical companies.

They pledged to grant funding in Naira and Forex to pharmaceutical companies to enable the procurement of raw materials and equipment. Beneficiary companies include Emzor Pharmaceuticals, Fidson Drugs, GSK, May & Baker, Unique Pharma, Swiss Pharma, Neimeth, Sagar, Orange Drugs, and Dana Pharma.

The bureaucrats who drafted the objectives of the Presidential Task Force on Covid19 put into it to “lay a foundation for scientific and medical research to address all emerging infectious diseases”.  Audacious, but only if it is not “audio” as young people nowadays describe empty proclamations full of sound and fury signifying nothing. What can they do in six months? Or what can they not do in six months? We urge PTFCovid19 to show commitment and zeal to push research into pharmaceutical raw materials and its production in our country. It is a critical national imperative.

To give life to this fine objective, we recommend that PTFCovid19 should make it SMART. They should commence by appointing a subcommittee to drill down the ramifications of this objective. They should be interacting with our universities and research institutes.

With the enablement of the Central Bank, our pharmaceutical companies should now also be thinking robust Research and Development (R&D) engagements. Where it is tough to go it alone, groups of companies should commission and invest in specific research efforts. Nigeria and its firms must take advantage of the opportunities that Covid-19 and the threats of country responses to the situation poses to our drug manufacturing.


Culled from BusinessDay

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