How to avert scarcity, rising cost of drugs in Nigeria, by PSN
Concerned about the rising costs and scarcity of essential medicines in the country, pharmacists under the aegis of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) have made recommendations to the federal government on how to reverse the anomaly.
The PSN in a communiqué released after its just concluded 89th annual national conference in Minna, Niger State, tagged “Power State 2016” decried the impact of the continued recession and lack of foreign exchange on installed capacity in the pharmaceutical industry with high import dependence for machinery, active pharmaceutical ingredients, other raw materials as well as packaging materials and called for a concerted plan by industrial pharmacists, relevant regulatory agencies and government that will see to an improvement in the current status.
The pharmacists in the communiqué, which was jointly signed by the President, Ahmed Yakasai, and National Secretary, Gbolagade Iyiola, called on government for preferential provision of foreign exchange from the official market for pharmaceutical imports because of the security implications of scarcity of essential lifesaving pharmaceutical products to the nation. They reasoned this will enable pharmaceutical companies pursue the target of the National Drug Policy for an increase in local production capacity to a level where 70 per cent of total output satisfies at least 60 per cent of national drug requirements of essential drugs while the balance is exported.
The theme of the conference was: “Pharmaceutical Industry Contributions to National Development.”
The PSN solicited government interest to develop the petrochemical industry in Nigeria to trigger an impactful industrial revolution that is increasingly less import dependent, and by so doing absorb the shocks of foreign exchange volatility while fulfilling its task of providing needed pharmaceutical products for the teeming masses.
The society submitted that a petrochemical industry guarantees availability of a plethora of chemical needs for meaningful industrial takeoff and logically a boost in National Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is achieved in addition to the benefit package of additional source of internally generated revenue.
The pharmacists observed with delight the presidential-level ‘Ease of Doing Business’ reform efforts of government, which involves simplifying the procedures for the import of vital raw materials and components needed for local manufacture of drugs in Nigeria as well as ensuring consistency in customs classifications and regulations. They, therefore, called on the pharmaceutical companies to formulate a formal and comprehensive national strategy and plan of action for pharmaceutical manufacturing to improve Nigeria’s international competitiveness ratings.
The pharmacists encouraged government to appreciate that there were numerous obstacles and roadblocks that continue to afflict business innovation and growth in the pharmaceutical sector. They also admonished government to address these concerns through the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Federal Ministry of Finance and Nigerian Customs Service through the use of tariff structures to incentivize local production and as much as possible discourage importation of medicines that can be produced locally. The pharmacists lauded the encouragement of the Minister of Health for the local production of long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLITN) in the country to save scarce foreign exchange.
The communiqué advocated the establishment of strong University-Industry partnership to promote technology innovation, entrepreneurship, supply chain and regulatory management to support the progressive movement of the local pharmaceutical industry to higher levels of the value chain. The pharmacists demanded stronger collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry and the academia in the area of research and drug development in order to produce both locally available active molecules and other raw materials as one of the ways to attain self-sufficiency in local drug manufacture.
The PSN commended the Pharmacists’ Council of Nigeria (PCN) on its drive to rid the country of Open Drug Markets using a diplomatic, open-dialogue approach between stakeholders and governments in affected states. The pharmacists believed that this approach if well harnessed and managed will permanently rest the menace of indiscriminate sales of medicines in unregistered places in Nigeria. They, therefore, specially mandated the PCN to commence a mobilisation of players in existing Open Drug Markets to embrace the inevitable relocation to coordinated wholesale centres (CWCs) in a bid to make the deadline of July 31, 2017 to close Open Drug Markets a reality in Nigeria.
The pharmacists resolved to partner with the government in its continued war against corruption through working assiduously towards dealing with issues constraining broader national development as this will lead to the resolution of macro-economic level issues such as infrastructure, security, quality of education, labour, productivity and skilled work force that has made the manufacturing environment unconducive for industrialization and inter-country technological transfer
The conference applauded the news of the continued growth of the Mega Drug Distribution project instituted by PSN National Executive Committee (NEC) through its pet project Ultra Logistics Company Limited and noted with satisfaction the planned business-like approach being employed for its expansion. Conference enjoined Pharmacists that are yet to subscribe to empower themselves by investing in the business.
The pharmacists acknowledged with tremendous appreciation the affirmation of PSN position by the Presidency that the role of the pharmacist has evolved from that of a compounder and supplier of products to that of a provider of services and information and ultimately a provider of patient care. The PSN consequently urged pharmacists to accept responsibility for drug therapy management by acquiring the requisite knowledge and skills required for pharmaceutical care and called on the PCN to fully support the culture of pharmaceutical care in training and practice.
The pharmacists noted the increased attention being paid to the development of multidisciplinary teams by various healthcare professionals and therefore urged pharmacists to take an active interest in initiating and sustaining such collaborative efforts that improve the health of the public. They also urged the academia to mentor practitioners in developing the appropriate skills needed to function optimally within such collaborations to ensure pharmacists can practice at global levels and thus improving the health of the public.
The conference prevailed albeit strongly on Community Pharmacists to pursue primary care certification with globally accredited organizations like World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) as well as well as seeking appropriate payment mechanism under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
The pharmacists called on pharmacy inclined regulatory agencies, pharmacy associations and key leaders in community pharmacy to engage with government and other healthcare professionals to develop appropriate policies to institutionalize pharmaceutical care and public health oriented pharmacy services to enable practitioners practice these roles in a standardized manner.
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