How to develop local medicines industry, by Akanmu

Olu Akanmu

Olu Akanmu

• Wants comprehensive national strategy, plan of action for pharmaceutical manufacturing

Pharmacists have given recipe on how to develop the local pharmaceutical industry to meet essential drug needs of the country, and for export to boost Nigeria’s economy.

A Fellow of the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (NAP) and Senior Vice President/ Divisional Head of Retail Banking, First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Plc, Olu Akanmu, in a keynote address at the 89th Annual Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), in Minna, Niger State, said Nigeria must develop and adopt a formal comprehensive National Strategy and Plan of Action for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (NSPAPM).

The keynote address is titled “Pharmaceutical Industry, National Development and a Fairer Society.”Akanmu explained: “While researching this paper, I was shocked to see that right under our eyes, some smart African countries like Ethiopia have developed such framework and implementing such, essentially leaving Nigeria behind. The following recommendation on the issues, which the NSPAPM must address, is largely adapted from the Ethiopian framework.”

The pharmacist also recommended improvement of access to medicines through quality local production and implementation of the Good Manufacturing Plan Road Map. Akanmu said Nigeria now has four local companies certified as compliant with World Health Organisation (WHO) Good Manufacturing Standard. He congratulated them on the achievement but said there is need to make such standards the norm and not the exception. Akanmu said a formal public and private, inter-sectorial partnership, involving the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), Federal Ministry of Trade and Industry (FMTI), National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PGMAN) and the PSN need to be deployed to make this happen.

Akanmu, who was also the Chief Marketing Officer at Airtel Nigeria, said Nigeria must strengthen the National Medicine Regulatory System. “We must continue to strengthen efforts and capacity to eradicate fake drugs and medicine in the pharmaceutical supply chain,” he said.

The pharmacist said the country must create incentives to move local companies progressively along the pharmaceutical industry value chain from importation of finished products to local manufacturing.

Akanmu, who obtained His Bachelor of Pharmacy in 1985 from the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, a Master in Business Administration from Lagos State University and a Management Advancement programme from University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, said to encourage local manufacturing, government must deploy incentives that encourage importers to become local producers through the right discriminatory tariffs and tax policies.

He said the current Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) unified tariff model where tariffs on imported finished pharmaceutical products are lower than pharmaceutical raw materials for local manufacturing therefore needs to be reviewed. “It delivers exactly the opposite of this policy objective. It dis-incentivize local manufacturing while encouraging importation of finished products. It kills local jobs in the Nigerian pharmaceutical manufacturing industry while creating jobs in in China and India,” Akanmu said.

The pharmacist said other incentives will include the encouragement of pooled procurement of raw materials to get scale and cost benefits for local manufacturers, a firm formal policy to patronize local players and local products by government, where there are local manufacturing capacities, where prices are competitive and there is adequate compliance to Good Manufacturing Standards. He said similar policies are being implemented called “Local Content” policy in the oil industry to encourage local players. Akanmu said Federal, States and local governments should implement such “local content” policy in their procurement of drugs and medicaments.

Akanmu said Nigeria must develop our human resources and local technical capacity through relevant education and training. “We must build a stronger 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,” he said.

The pharmacist said the country must develop geographic clusters for the production of APIs. He explained: “In locations around Lagos, Onitsha and Kano where the pharmaceutical forward supply chain is well-developed, deliberate pharmaceutical industry clusters or industrial parks could be developed that bring local players and their value chain suppliers together with adequate and shared infrastructure for good pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution.

“Industrial clusters development in a country with constrained resources allows resources to be concentrated in fewer geographic locations at levels above the minimum effective threshold, that support industrial development rather than scattering them uncoordinatedly and ineffectively across the country. Can we for example plan a pharmaceutical cluster at the Lekki Free Zone around the petrochemical refineries coming on stream and build geographic, and value chain complementarities to support the manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients?”

Akanmu said the country must also develop a national system to coordinate health technology research across our universities and research institutes working closely with industry.He said pharmacists must also continue to put pressure on government to deal with all the issues constraining our broader national development.

such as infrastructure, ease of doing business, quality of education, labour productivity and skilled work force, security, governance and the cankerworm of corruption.

The pharmacist said these issues, as earlier discussed provide the macro context to support the implementation of the National Strategy and Plan of Action for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing. “They are the macro level issues that have made the manufacturing geese unable to fly to Africa from Asia as it flew from Europe to Asia,” he said.

Akanmu said the evolution of the pharmaceutical industries in Brazil and India could teach Nigeria important lessons in how to ensure that the growth of the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry does not become stunted. He explained: “Today, the world recognize India as an emerging power in the manufacture and export of generic medicines but little is heard of the Brazilian pharmaceutical industry. This is despite the fact that both countries had similar growth ambition and similar opportunities of the relaxed intellectual property right protection environment in the pre-TRIPS era of the international pharmaceutical market.”

TRIPS are the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS), which sets the minimum standards for the protection of intellectual property, including patents for pharmaceuticals.

Akanmu said the local pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria seem to be following the glide path of a Brazil rather than an India. He explained: “We seem to be unable to build a consensus even among ourselves in the Pharmaceutical Society, that for the long term good of the industry and for the creation of local jobs, we should be united in supporting an import substitution policy that encourage local manufacturing. It is important to emphasize that import substitution policy does not mean a discrimination against everything imported.

“A country like Nigeria with limited local capacity for production and manufacturing of medicines will in-fact damage public good and health care with such blanket discrimination against all drug imports. The critical issue is to collaborate and identify the categories and products where there are local capacity and implement progressive and gradual import-substitution policy in these areas, with clear set goals and timelines, and leave the rest for inevitable and necessary importation.

“The local manufacturers must also produce to global standards and deliver prices that are competitive. Import substitution should never become a policy to promote and protect local production inefficiency, which will be at the detriment of the consumer and public good.”

The pharmacist said the historic task is how to take advantage of the current challenges of economic recession, scarcity of forex for drugs and raw material importation, that threatens the survival of the pharmaceutical industry, to reinvent the industry and build a strong local manufacturing base for pharmaceutical products.

Akanmu said to be absolutely dependent on other countries, to produce very little, to bulk import most medicines consumed, without a national structured articulated plan, with specific goals and timelines to gradually replace a critical level of imports by local manufacturing is tantamount to a pathological health crisis and perpetual poor access to medicines.

He said the contribution of the pharmaceutical industry to citizen well-being and their quality of life far exceeds what is captured by its size and share of national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Akanmu said pharmacists must therefore commission a new level of advocacy with government and policy makers to appreciate better the pharmaceutical industry and urgently address the disincentives to local pharmaceutical manufacturing because of its importance to the citizen’s well-being.

He also said pharmacists must also reinvent pharmacy practice and retail pharmacy to take advantage of digital technology, e-commerce and remote advisory services to deliver pharmaceutical care more efficiently and innovatively.

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