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Pharmacists want government to prioritise funding of research, herbal products

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Pharmacists in the industry and academia have called for deliberate effort by government to provide basic facilities and resources necessary to convert the country’s natural resources and biodiversity to essential medicines for curing diseases.

The pharmacists under the aegis of the Nigerian Association of Pharmacists in Academics (NAPA) and the Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria (NAIP) said the country is blessed with abundant natural resources that could be converted to herbal medicines for treatment of all kind of ailments, noting that funding remains the major barrier in manufacturing and commercializing these products.

They emphasized on the dearth of research development in the country, as industries continue to rely on formulations and products that have already been developed outside Nigeria.

NAPA, who converged with NAIP on collaborative effort to promote home grown medicinal products, research and development, at the launching of the Nigeria Medicine Development project, an initiative of NAPA-NAIP, sought for government’s recognition and development of the pharmaceutical sector, especially the herbal industry where it can have comparative advantage over the rest of the world.

Speaking at the event, the National Chairman of NAPA, Prof. Martins Emeje, lamented the neglect of research and development of herbal products by academia, as the country rely solely on imported medicinal products, which he said contributes to capital flight, describing it as “national security issue”.

“The truth is funding will never be enough and we also hide a lot due to lack of funding to ignore what we suppose to do.

Nigeria needs deliberate research and development agenda in order to develop its phyto-medicine or herbal industry, which it’s not doing right now.

There is enough resources in Nigeria for us to develop a pharmaceutical sector, especially the herbal industry where we have comparative advantage over the rest of the world, but because it is not an agenda or priority of government, we are not doing that, all we need to do is take it as priority.

He said: “There is no country in the world that develops without deliberate research and development, science and technology, as long as you depend on importation or other countries for your resources or needs, especially for herbs, you are in trouble.

Imagine Asian countries that we go to import finished products from, when we continue to import finished products, by the time they start sending counterfeit and fake products to us and we start buying in thousands and consuming, then we will know that we are suppose to use our head or put our resources into our own environment and develop our products.”

Meanwhile, the Chief Operating Officer, Pharmacy Plus Limited, Chukwuemeka Obi pointed out that Nigeria’s overdependence on foreign drugs is not only affecting her foreign exchange reserves, but its security as well.

“Over dependence on foreign import of pharmaceuticals is counterproductive, it can affect a nation because if the other people decide not to supply you again, then the nation is in trouble,” he said

Speaking on the need for collaboration between the industry and the academia, the National Chairman, NAIP, Ignatius Anukwu said the pharma industries in Nig
eria, according to economists, contributes very little to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), adding that importation of raw materials from foreign countries will leave a huge burden on the country’s reserve, noting that investing in local resources will earn foreign exchange for Nigeria.


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