Drug manufacturers want help for backward integration
With about N20 billion invested in upgrading their factories in the last five years, pharmaceutical manufacturers and companies in the country are seeking the Federal Government’s buy-in in a proposed backward integration plan expected to revamp the industry.
Specifically, the operators want clarity and consistency in government’s policies as regards the sector as well as a new strategy for drug importation to enable them stay afloat and increase created jobs to one million direct and indirect staff.
Speaking at Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN)/Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN) Forum held in Abuja, Chairman of PMG-MAN, Okey Akpa, said policy flip-flops had, at many times, threatened to shut down over 120 pharma companies in the industry.
Akpa said drug makers in the country were not carried along when some major policies affecting them were made, adding that that the Common External Tariff (CET) threatened to wipe out the industry between June 2015 and November 2016, until the Federal Government intervened.
“The CET threatened to wipe us out until the 2016 Fiscal Policy, which changed the dynamics. The CET provides for five to 20 percent tariff for importation of pharmaceutical raw materials and active ingredients but allow finished medicines to enter into any country in the sub-region at no duty. We are grateful that the Federal Government intervened with the 2016 Fiscal Policy which imposed tariffs on four categories of imported drugs.
“We need to have an import strategy. What we are saying is, hand over importation to those who are already manufacturing medicines. That means they have plans to start producing the drugs. When you hand importation to those who are not manufacturing and have no plan to do so, you are discouraging local manufacturing,” he said.
Also speaking, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, PHN, Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq, said there was a need to create an enabling environment for local manufacturers through effective supply chain management.
“At the heart of this vision is the Africa Resource Centre, which is targeted at mobilising the private sector and the academia to complement other actors currently supporting the public health supply chain, to accelerate and sustain improvement in key supply chain outcomes,” Umar-Sadiq said.
His counterpart at Fidson Healthcare Plc, Fidelis Fidelis Ayebae, said N20 billion had been spent by pharmaceuticals in the last five years in factory, quality and facility upgrades, which was a monumental achievement.
President of Dangote Industries Limited, Aliko Dangote, who was represented by Azuka Okeke, country lead, ARC, identified logistics as the biggest challenge facing manufacturers after energy problem, stressing the need for synergy to save costs.
“How do we partner with the government in such a way that it brings returns on investment? As pharmaceuticals, we should not all bid for the same contract. We need to create efficiency in warehousing,” Dangote said.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIM), Usman Yusuf, called for partnership between drug manufacturers and his agency to widen health insurance coverage.
Yusuf said the only to ensure efficiency in drug distribution was to see a good healthcare system as a human right and a tool for poverty alleviation.
“Our health insurance coverage is still very low. And we need partnership with all the stakeholders to ensure the insurance scheme is implemented at all levels,” he said.