Tinubu having sleepless nights over drug price hike — Minister

Tunji Alausa

The Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Tunji Alausa, has said that President Bola Tinubu is having sleepless nights over the hike in drug prices and scarcity of essential medicines in the country.

The minister noted that the high cost of drugs and the exit of some multinational pharmaceutical companies from Nigeria were key issues the president was working tirelessly to address.

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 Online 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.

Speaking with newsmen shortly after the official commissioning of a new clinical complex at the Federal Medical Centre, Ebutte Metta, Lagos, Alausa said the president had directed the Ministry of Health to look for sustainable ways to solve the problem of hikes in drug prices.

He stressed that the president was determined to build sustainable, durable and comprehensive healthcare systems for Nigerians.

“Mr. President is having sleepless nights on this drug scarcity. He has discussed with us what we need to do.

“What President Bola Ahmed Tinubu wants for this country is sustainable, durable, comprehensive health care. He just doesn’t want us to scratch the surface.

“He (Tinubu) is very real and very truthful to Nigerians. He wants to fix the healthcare system, and he is working to deploy his time and resources of the country into our healthcare system.

”I know things are hard, but Nigerians should bear with us. Things will be turned to get better in the not-too-distant future.”

Continuing, the minister said, “It is a multifaceted solution that we have to provide to this problem. Number one, we have the problem of counterfeiting as well.

“We are working with NAFDAC and Customs to reduce the importation of counterfeit drugs into our country.

“We are also working with some of the local pharmaceutical companies to increase production.

”And some of the companies that are planning to leave, we are talking to them to bear with us not to leave. We are also working on various forms of integrations where we can encourage local manufacturing in our country,” he maintained.

The health minister revealed that the Federal Government is planning to open six medical industries across the six geopolitical zones.

He explained, “We are putting all our energy into ensuring that this medical industrialisation programme starts quickly.

“We are going to be opening six medical industrialissations in each of the six geopolitical zones.

“I know the Governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has committed land for us in the southwestern geopolitical zone. We’ll be talking to the other governors about setting up these industrial parks across our country.

“We are working to find a sustainable, durable, watch my word durable and sustainable solution to our problem.

“We don’t want to do patchwork. The president does not want us to do patchwork and that is why we are going to solve the problem.”

Alausa, however, revealed that the country will produce over 120,000 nurses by the end of the year.

He added, “Between the time we came in as a government, we were enrolling 28,000 nurses in a year.

“After this president took over, we enrolled about 66,000 nurses in nursing schools. Before the end of the year, we will produce over 120,000 nurses in the country.”

The PUNCH reports last December that a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress in Osun, Hon. Olatunbosun Oyintiloye, has appealed to President Bola Tinubu, to urgently intervene in the hike in prices of essential drugs in the country.

Oyintiloye, who appealed while speaking with newsmen in Osogbo, noted that many Nigerians were currently unable to access most essential drugs due to the extremely high prices.
He said that the escalating prices of the drugs could be attributed to a combination of factors, such as the withdrawal of GSK, a major player in the pharmaceutical industry, and the high rate of inflation in the devaluation of naira, among others.


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