W-HBS Chairman Tackles The Pharmaceutical Industry Challenges

The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN) recently kicked against plans by the Federal Government to import anti-retroviral drugs worth over N1 billion.

Chairman of the PMG-MAN, Bunmi Olaopa, and the body’s Executive Secretary, Olakunle Okelola in a report they made available to newsmen in Lagos, lamented that Nigerian pharmaceutical manufacturers had the capacity to produce such drugs – ampicillin capsules/powder; amoxillin capsules/powder; clorpheniramine tablets/syrup; abscorbic acid/syrup; tetracyline capsules; ibuprofen tablet/syrup; dextrose, etc.

The sub-sector had been grappling with declining patronage, with the resultant under-utilisation of capacity, rising stocks due to low patronage and other operational and economic challenges. The manufacturers boasted of having the installed capacity to meet over 70 per cent of Nigerian drug needs, including antimalarial and anti-retroviral, but that the installed capacity is currently under-utilised due to the influx of imported and donated drugs from abroad. Poor patronage by both the government and individuals had forced some pharmaceutical companies in the country to shut down production.

Why do governments at all levels in Nigeria prefer creating jobs and sustaining manufacturers in more advanced foreign countries than doing so at home, despite the lip service?

In addition, encouraging investment in local drugs production would generate employment for many Nigerians roaming the streets and, in the long run, lead to a more competitive pharmaceutical manufacturing industry in terms of standard, quality and safe drugs for domestic consumption. The FG should urgently review its plan of huge import of anti-retroviral and other drugs that can be produced locally. For long, ‘Buy Nigeria’ has been abused as a hollow jargon.

On the other hand, the PMG-MAN has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bank of Industry (BoI) to make available the N200 billion intervention fund to boost the capacity of the sub-sector. Mr Bunmi Olaopa, said during the association’s Chief Executive Officers forum recently, that the industry was under going very dynamic changes, hence the need for more working capital for retooling, product development and regulatory compliance. According to Olaopa, a significant assistance required from the Federal Government would be the disbursement of the N200 billion intervention fund, which was initiated by the BoI and the CBN last year.

He noted that the intervention fund, which is being sourced by the BoI, has also been presented to the Minister of Finance and his counterparts in the Trade and Investment and Health ministries, as well as the Managing Director of the BoI. Olaopa said that locally manufactured pharmaceutical products would only gain international acceptance if the Nigerian manufacturing industry is upgraded to international standard.

“The system upgrading takes a lot of money and the companies cannot get good loans with the current interest rates on short term loans which is not good for the industry”, he said.

Olaopa disclosed that new factories were under construction, with some already commissioned, while many were at advance stages of been upgraded and renovated to meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards. He urged government to invest more of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on Research and Development (R&D) initiatives, saying that it would assist in the upgrading of current Good Manufacturing Practice in Nigeria and pursuing international certifications.

The manufacturer observed that the local drug manufacturing companies still depend solely on imported raw materials, and this situation he said, could only be improved upon through increased R&D activities. He pointed out that local pharmaceutical manufacturers have installed capacity to meet over 70 per cent of Nigerian drug needs, including anti-malaria and anti-retroviral medicines. Olaopa added that the installed capacity was presently under utilised due to the influx of imported products and donated medicines.

He disclosed that many of the pharmaceutical companies have been forced to close their production lines as a result of low patronage from government and individuals. “Due to low patronage from government and donors such as the Global Fund and others, local production are threatened, as established lines are idle and enormous investments are wasting away.

Read Olaopa’s recent presentation: Nigeria Pharma Industry – Progress towards Pre-Qualification on 25 September, 2012 as published by the World Health Organisation. Its an insightful presentation.



Daniel Imeli says:

Industries are driven by innovations as the world becomes a global village every day. I smelled an invitation on the government to ban drug importation. That is a very weak position to assume while seeking for government support. Asking for investment in the R&D arm of the industry is acceptable, but the individuals in the industry should stand up to the challenge of innovation and competitiveness. The industry must understand that it exists in a world beyond the boundaries of Nigeria. Business is war, and only the strongest and smartest thrive and survive. No more pampering.