By Sola Ogundipe & Chioma Obinna
LAGOS – Twenty-four hours to the commencement of the planned nationwide strike to protest the recent removal of fuel subsidy by President Goodluck Jonathan, pharmacists under the auspices of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, have told Nigerians to expect a 50 per cent rise in the cost of basic drugs in the country.
National President of the PSN, Mr Azubuike Okwor, who stated this, weekend, in Lagos also regretted that the hike in costs of basic drugs in the weeks ahead was inevitable if the decision to remove the subsidy was not reversed.
Okwor added that the development would provide another window of opportunity for faking of genuine medicines as many Nigerians would go for cheaper and affordable drugs.
His words: “After thorough evaluation of the possible impact of the subsidy removal on the pharmaceutical sector, we predict at least a 50 per cent hike in the cost of basic drugs in Nigeria in the weeks ahead if the subsidy removal is not reversed.”
Okwor traced the cost to increases in running costs for machinery and equipment, vehicles and overall logistic plan related to professional handling of drugs by manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailer.
Further regretting that the timing of the subsidy withdrawal has also left a sizeable number of Nigerians stranded as they are unable to pay the new fares after a long holiday said: “We also see more agitations for wage increases by various cadres of personnel in the sector who would be genuinely seeking to cushion the distress that this policy will foist on them.”
Confirming that PSN will be joining other Nigerians to protest the recent withdrawal of fuel subsidy, the PSN President noted: “As part of the multiplier effect of this unpopular government decision, the citizenry has been subjected to unprecedented hardship in all sectors including transportation where the increases on local and intercity travels have increased to between 100 per cent to 200 per cent.”