‘Why industrial pharmacists must collaborate’
Notwithstanding the current economic challenges for local manufacturers, an economic analyst, Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi has urged industrial pharmacists in the country to collaborate and foster a common front, if they must break even.
Ogunbiyi, who spoke at the bi-monthly meeting of the Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria (NAIP), recently held in Lagos, said only a united group of manufacturers could influence economic policies favourably and attract the most needed investors.
Citing the fall in price of crude oil, dwindling revenue and devaluation of the currency, the lead speaker at the meeting did not mince words in saying this is not the best of times for the Nigerian economy. He said some of the blames should also go to the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector for being too dependent on the government and failing to negotiate a better stake for local manufacturing sector.
Ogunbiyi, who is the Group Managing Director of Mutual Benefits Assurance, observed that the pharmaceutical sector is the fastest thriving industry with 16.4 per cent annual growth rate, and net worth of investment scaling from N171b in 2012 to N236b in 2014.
However, the sector is still import dependent, with 85 per cent of active ingredient still sourced from overseas. “Though you have the needed expertise in the country, you have not used them. Nigerian pharmaceutical sector, on the Risk/Reward Index (RRI), is regarded as a low-reward, high-risk proportion for multinationals. It means that investors will not want to come to your side.
Four companies got World Health Organisation (WHO) certification in 2014, what have you done with it? “Government is the biggest spender in your industry. Now that there is no money to spend, how will you survive? Your association has not really been able to influence government policies to better your industry,” he said.
Though the challenges are daunting, Ogunbiyi still assured members of the association that investors are always around the corner, if the manufacturers could work as one and with common voice to be more inviting.
To make the sector attractive, he said, it begins with operators becoming more entrepreneurial; attract the best brains to research and development. Continuing, he said: “You also need self-regulation. There are still bad people in your industry that make investors lose money. Ensure they are actually punished to send the right message to the investors.
“Truth is, you are the only set of people that can make a change. You already have the industry, the expertise and idea, then put it into use to attract the needed investment. We must foster partnership among ourselves, collectively take risks and leave our current comfort zones,” he said.
Apparently in agreement with Ogunbiyi, session chairman, Okey Akpa, added that the manufacturers were at the verge of losing the game because of in-fighting, “thinking we are eachother’s problems.”
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