• Thursday, July 18, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

AfCFTA: Manufacturers lead dialogue on Nigeria’s drug security

AfCFTA: Manufacturers lead dialogue on Nigeria’s drug security

The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN) is set for a national dialogue on the future of Nigeria’s drug security and the options available within the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.

The conference which begins on Tuesday, October 18 will run for two consecutive days, focusing on strengthening and expanding the capacity of local manufacturers to play a bigger role in pharmaceutical production.

It will also involve the exhibition of modern technologies in processing for formulation and bulk manufacturing; utility equipment and services; and analytical and biotechnology lab instruments among others. The programme is expected to provide a networking opportunity to meet professionals from the various spectrum of the industry.

Patrick Ajah, chairman of the expo’s organising committee and managing director at M&B Nigeria Plc. at a briefing earlier said there are multiple constraints, which if not addressed, will continue to threaten the potential of producers to deliver at maximum capacity.

He identified the high cost of production, worsened by the exorbitant rate of diesel, as a priority concern for manufacturers who already struggle with poor government support and undue taxation.

“Energy play crucial factor in production, and the majority of our members don’t depend on government electricity to produce because it is not reliable. We have to do the needful, yet we are slammed with multiple taxes by the government at different levels,” Ajah said.

He also stated that institutional debt by government-run health facilities is another challenge to the sector’s growth as many contracts with pharmaceutical companies are not honoured.

Read also: Consumers seek cheaper variants of drugs as prices surge

Analysts have often stressed the need for structured support to aid local manufacturing with access to healthcare and socioeconomic development, especially in job creation, technology transfer, and revenue generation.

However, due to the supply deficit facing health systems, Nigeria like many African countries currently imports 70 to 90 percent of its drugs, with a very poor biotechnology sector.

Compared with countries such as China and India, with comparable populations, import between five to 20 percent of their drug needs and have the highest concentration of bulk manufacturers.

Frank Muonemeh, executive secretary PMG-MAN, speaking in the same vein, said these challenges and more are what the conference seeks to highlight and call for increased incentives to grow local manufacturing.

Over 50 foreign pharmaceutical manufacturing companies have registered to participate in the two-day event, he said.

“It is a rare opportunity for productive networking and business-to-business engagement among regulators, policymakers, professionals, ancillary companies, academia, students, development partners, bilateral unions, researchers, and non-governmental organisations,” he said.