On lack of drug price control
Sir: According to the World Health Organization, a competitive market place is the best way to ensure low prices for drugs. Proper organization of the market and application of anti-trust (monopoly) laws should facilitate price competition. However, in some cases, if pharmaceutical markets do not become competitive, control or regulation of medicines prices may be based on actual cost, controlling company’s profit margins, or comparison with prices of other medicines in the same therapeutic categories. The real question now is; Does our pharmaceutical sector competitive? Yes, it is. We have dozens of local manufacturers, importers, wholesales outlets and retail pharmacies that compete with each other in terms of pricing. Many countries like United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and others also use a competitive market place system to ensure low prices of medicines.
Countries like India, Pakistan, Colombia, Argentina, Philippines and Indonesia have used various strategies to control drug price. Nigeria is not left out, Since 80’s we’ve championed the use of generic substitution to make drugs affordable for our people and encourage local pharmaceutical manufacturers in the country.
Nigeria’s pharmaceutical sector is largely dependent on foreign exchange, which is unpredictable and volatile. Indeed without preferential provision of forex for pharmaceutical imports, there will be scarcity and hence making medicines unaffordable. This is one of the major reasons while fixing a particular price for medicine in Nigeria is quite difficult. Most of the countries, like India and Malaysia that have successfully used regulated price control for medicines in their essential drug list have built capacity as local manufacturers with little dependent on importing of final products or active pharmaceutical ingredients.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and Pharmacists’ Council of Nigeria will continue to work with government, NAFDAC, PMG-MAN and other stakeholders to influence the growth and stability of the generic drug market in Nigeria by championing supportive legislation and regulation for the sector, ensuring quality assurance capacity, increasing public and professional acceptance of generic drugs, and providing the right environment for good competition among pharmaceutical companies.
• Ahmed I Yakasai is the President and Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN)