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Increasing reliance on local drugs

By Chukwuma Muanya
15 November 2018   |   3:37 am
The newly elected President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, has pledged among other things to ensure that the increased reliance on local production of drugs as enshrined in the national health and drug policies are pursued determinedly to help promote national security and create more jobs for pharmacists in the…

President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa

The newly elected President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, has pledged among other things to ensure that the increased reliance on local production of drugs as enshrined in the national health and drug policies are pursued determinedly to help promote national security and create more jobs for pharmacists in the industry.

Ohuabunwa, who was elected at the just concluded 91st Annual National Conference of the Society in Ibadan, Oyo State, told The Guardian: “True partnership will be established with the academia to help increase value addition and enhance research capabilities and reward for academic pharmacists. Additionally, those currently importing drugs that can be produced locally will be incentivized to transit to local production.”

Ohuabunwa said his vision is “to see the pharmacy profession become one of the most trusted, respected and rewarding professions in Nigeria.”

The pharmacist said his mission is: “Through the dedicated enhancement of Professional excellence and service to the medicine consuming Public, effective partnerships with stakeholders in the health care delivery system, and a proactive advocacy stance, we will significantly enhance the impact, image, prestige, respectability, recognition and reward for the Pharmacy profession.”

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa read Pharmacy at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU) graduating in 1976. He did Postgraduate training in Business and Organizational Management at the Columbia University, New York, United States (U.S.) and the Lagos Business School, Lagos.

He is a recipient of an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration from Gregory University, Uturu. He joined Pfizer Products Plc. in 1978 as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative and rose to become the Chairman/CEO in 1993.

In 1997, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa led the Management Buy-Over of Pfizer Inc. shares in Pfizer Products Plc., transforming the resultant company – Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc. into a medium-sized Nigerian R&D Based Pharmaceutical company. He voluntarily retired from the company after 33 years’ service in the industry, 18 years of which were at CEO level.

Meanwhile, the EMIR of Kano, His Highness, Mallam Muhammadu Sanusi II, Sarkin Kano was honoured by Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) as honorary Pharmacist by the Pharm. Ahmed I. Yakasai PSN led administration at the opening ceremony of the 91st Annual National Conference of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria Oluyole 2018, October 30, 2018 for been with pharmacists for fight against drug abuse.

Also the Former Executive Governor of Kano State and Former Minister of Education, His Excellency, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau was also honoured with Friend of Pharmacy Award for extending his hands of fellowship consistently.

Other notable Nigerians honoured by Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai PSN led Administration include: Prof. Suleiman AbdulKareem, The Vice Chancellor University of Ilorin for contributing a lot to the development of the Faculty of Pharmacy; and Dr. Chimezie Anyakora, Chief of Party, USP/PQM Nigeria who happened to be a consistent promoter pharmaceutical quality management and safe medicine as honorary Pharmacists

The Friend of Pharmacy Awardees are: Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, for keeping to his promise and joined hands with PSN to champion the fight against drug abuse in Nigeria; Executive Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi; Chief Medical Director of University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan, Prof. Temitope Alonge as one of the advocates and champion of Pharmaceutical care in Nigeria for the benefit of the patients; Vice Chancellor University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Prof. B. C. Ozumba, for taking the pharmaceutical education to a great level not only in UNN but in Nigeria in general. He contributed a lot in making pharmacy education easy; Chairman, Fate Foundation, Mr. Fola Adeola, for been there for all PSN activities; Oba of Lagos, Dr. Oba Rilwan Osuolale Aremu Akiolu 1, for his love to the pharmacy profession and fighting our genuine causes. You really appreciate all his interventions.

Also, the PSN in a communiqué adopted at the end of the 91st Annual National Conference and signed Yakasai and the National Secretary, Emeka Duru, noted the unacceptably low capacity utilization of the pharmaceutical industry fuelled by high cost of production and distribution, poor regulatory oversight and counterfeit drugs and calls for disruptive innovations for the entire fabric of the nation including the petrochemical and services industry.

The Conference also called for innovative strategic long-term partnerships with international businesses and governments to ensure availability of cost-effective drugs to the teeming public at all times.

The Conference noted that the dynamics of development in the pharmaceutical industry is influenced by infrastructure and access to finance, security, corruption, good governance, quality of education, skilled manpower and labour productivity and opined that if relevant stakeholders play their part the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria will rise to its rightful place of prominence in the pharmaceutical supply chain not only in West Africa but across the globe.

The Conference received with great joy the report of collaboration between pharmacists in Industry and the Academia that has resulted in the production of one finished pharmaceutical product, NANIP herbal cough tincture, with six more products in the pipeline.

The Conference therefore called for more collaboration partners and funding to commercialize the products in the pipeline even as it remains committed to the production of pharmaceutical grade corn starch by the year 2020.

The PSN Conference called on all relevant stakeholders to leverage on already existing innovative technologies to enable the creation of one large market called Africa. The Conference acknowledged that this can only be done if Government provides the enabling business environment with incentives and strong regulation to grow local production within Nigeria, West Africa and Africa

The PSN Conference noted ongoing efforts to harmonize local and regional regulations in health across the sub-region and confirmed that this will go a long way to enhance distribution activities for pharmaceuticals across the sub-region.

The Conference also called for harmonized custom tariffs across the sub-region to enable greater access to locally produced pharmaceuticals and other goods.

The pharmacists noted challenges associated with distribution of finished pharmaceutical products such as infrastructural deficits in transport, storage and costs passed on to distributors by manufacturers resulting in prohibitive costs for distribution of medicines. They therefore called for legislation to back Good Distribution Practices for Medicines and Health devices and products, effective strategies on barcoding as well as policy on Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFIDs) for bulk packaging within a few years to achieve ‘track and trace’ of medicines and thus ensuring medicine security in Nigeria.

The PSN Conference noted that a genuine need for controlled drugs exist though supply and access is inadequate.

The Conference therefore called for an effective mechanism for appropriate quantification and estimation of narcotics required for therapeutic use to justify a request for increased allocation from the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

The pharmacists noted with dismay the widespread illicit use of narcotic drugs typified by cannabis and tramadol and calls for a comprehensive policy framework that will ensure access for medical purposes and prevent abuse and diversion. They called for effective policies backed with adequate enforcement to control the misuse and abuse of prescription medicines (typified by codeine), and appropriate treatment and rehabilitation services for those addicted to both narcotic and prescription drugs.