The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN) has warned that there would be over 100 per cent increase in the cost of drugs produced in the country if pharmaceutical raw materials and packagings are not exempted from the new foreign exchange guide. At a briefing in Lagos, its Chairman, Okey Akpa, appealed to the Federal Government to revise its new policy on foreign exchange for finished goods, as it affects the pharmaceutical sector, as the reversal step would make medicines more affordable and available to Nigerians.
He said many interventions are urgently required to ensure regular supply of essential medicines in Nigeria. Most critical is review of CBN’s new guidelines whereby foreign exchange for finished products should be accessed from the Inter Bank source. Akpa said such would impact negatively on the production of drugs. He said: “Some materials are categorised as finished goods by the CBN, but to manufacturers, those are materials we work with and as such we see them as raw materials. For instance, bottles and caps may be regarded as finished products, but to pharmaceutical manufacturers, these are just raw materials we use in the manufacturing process.”
Akpa said: “It is gladdening that the pharmaceutical sector is heading forward going by the World Health Organisation (WHO) pre-qualification of four Nigerian pharmaceutical companies and improvements in the quality of manufacturer’s processing, this totaled a cumulative investments topping N70b in the last four years. The Nigeria Pharmaceutical industry has installed capacity to meet 70 per cent of Nigerian medicine need in line with the national drug policy and improve access to treatment in general.
He said: “This is the time for critical intervention in the nation’s pharmaceutical sector, as it obtains in other ECOWAS countries that enjoy special tariff protection. There is the need for support for local manufacturing in designating Pharmaceutical Manufacturing as a priority sector; preferential patronage of local manufacturers by the Implementation of Domestic preference of the public procurement Act of 2007. Special incentives for processing international certifications and WHO prequalification and exemption of pharmaceutical raw materials and packaging from the CBN policy on Foreign Exchange.”