FG vows to stop exit of pharmaceutical companies 

The Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Tunji Alausa has revealed plans by the Federal Government to create policies and laws that would stop the exit of multinational pharmaceutical companies from Nigeria.

The minister lamented that many of the multinational companies have been in the country for decades without contributing to the development of Nigeria’s pharmaceutical sector.

Speaking at the official commissioning of a new Clinical Complex at the Federal Medical Centre, Ebutte Metta, Lagos, Alausa identified the prolonged presence of some of the multinational pharmaceutical companies as a key factor responsible for drug hikes.

He, however, stated that the problem of foreign pharmaceutical companies spending more than five years in the country would be reviewed and controlled by the new policies and laws.

Recall that in August 2023, British multinational drug maker and biotechnology company, GlaxoSmithKline, announced its exit from Nigeria.

Following its exit, the prices of the drug produced by the company reportedly skyrocketed and became scarce.

Apart from the exit of GSK, PUNCH Healthwise gathered that big names like Biode Pharmaceuticals, Barewa Pharmaceuticals, Toki Linkworld, Nigeria Hoechst, Evans Medical Plc, Welcome, Phoenix, and UTC, among others, are no longer in Nigeria.

“There are many others that disappeared through mergers and acquisitions. The factors that were responsible for their exit or death were the same and still affecting the few ones in operation,” former Chairman, of the Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria, Lolu Ojo revealed in an interview with one of our correspondents.

Ojo, who is a member of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, said the massive devaluation of Nigeria’s currency had brought about high costs of importation and machinery, among others.

He lamented that high prices of imported and locally manufactured products were the side effects of the continuous devaluation of the naira.

Speaking during the commissioning,  Alausa said efforts were ongoing to promote local drug production.

“We are very pained with what we are going through as regards the prices of drugs in the country. This is not a problem that just started. We just inherited it as a government

“The problem we have had is that we’ve let these pharmaceutical companies coming into our country stay too long.

“Go to Algeria, even other countries, they do things differently. When a company comes in, they give them a license. You can only market for five years. After five years you have to manufacture all those drugs in the country.

“But we just let these multinational companies come in the freeway, they come 20 years after, 30 years after they say they are marketing, they have not contributed to the development of our country. That’s the problem.

“We are going to change that. We have to make some new laws and some new government policies. And if the president has to sign an executive order, trust me on this, he will do that.

“But in the interim, we are talking to the local pharmaceutical manufacturers to see what we can do.
Today, I’ll be visiting the federal laboratory in Yaba. We’re trying to convert it to a lab where we can do bio-equivalent. These are things we need to make APIs to get  to pharmaceutical companies making drugs and get products here.

“Right now, a lot of the things we have are finished pharmaceutical products in our country. So it’s a ground-up solution that we’re putting in place,” he added.

He, however, reiterated the commitment of President Bola Tinubu to making sure that healthcare delivery to all Nigerians remains one of the top priorities of his administration.

The minister noted that the Federal Government would look for more resources for Nigeria’s health care system to enhance delivery.

He stressed that federal health institutions have continued to save the country’s health care system.

He added, “I have been around and I have spoken to literally everyone, spoken to a lot of people, federal tertiary institutions have been the ones that rescued our health care system.

“The president of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, does not take the health care of the citizens lightly. He has given us all the support to make sure all the health care remains on the frontline of his agenda for the country.

“I know all our Chief Medical Directors are doing okay with all the resources available to them. We will keep providing more resources and competent health care to help the citizens and the federal health tertiary health care.”

In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the center, Dr. Adedamola Dada said that the hospital had an internal mechanism to tackle brain drain, stressing that migration of medical doctors would not affect its operations.

He added that the hospital’s new clinical complex consists of an IVF Centre, an Ophthalmology Centre, modern wards & consulting clinic rooms, and Administrative offices.

Dada said, “The centere will help to provide more accessibility to patients and also improve the quality of health care in the country.

“We as an institution will not allow the ‘Japa’ syndrome to affect us because we will always plan.”


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