Managing Director of SKG Pharma Limited, Dr. Okey Akpa, has tasked the Federal Government on medicine security, saying “it is not in the interest of national security for Nigeria to depend largely on imported drugs for the health care needs of a population of over 180 million people”.
Akpa further called on the Federal Government and other tiers of government to adopt and implement the concept of Medicines Security, a strategic document developed by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN).
The concept was developed to ensure that the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria is encouraged through policy and political will to produce adequate, quality and affordable drugs locally for the health needs of Nigeria.
Akpa, who spoke in Lagos while receiving the President of the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria, MAN, Engineer Mansur Ahmed and his team in his office, said the concept of Medicine Security is based on the National Drug Policy 2005 as amended which stipulates, among other things, that 70 percent of the drugs consumed in the country should be produced locally while 30 percent is exported.
The SKG pharma boss who is the chairman of West African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association and immediate past chairman of PMG-MAN said local production which now stands at 35 percent is not a reflection of the skills and capacity of local industries but will need government intervention in several areas to boost the capacity of local pharmaceutical companies.
While thanking the current administration for the Presidential Order 003 which is a policy that makes it mandatory for Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs) of government to patronize locally made goods including drugs, He called on the Federal Government to adopt a system of “smart protection” for the pharmaceutical industries which involves giving incentives in the areas where the indigenous drug manufacturers have acquired capacity and also prevent the dumping of sub-standard and fake foreign drugs in the country.
Continuing, Akpa called on the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria to set up N300billion Pharmaceutical Expansion and Export Fund which will provide soft loans to upgrade and improve the factories swell as increase capacity among indigenous drug manufacturing companies.
Responding, the President of MAN, Engineer Mansur Ahmed, acknowledged the challenges facing manufacturers and the difficult environment they operate.
He said the association is engaging the government to ensure that there is support along the pharmaceutical value chain. Ahmed said with the coming of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement which Nigeria is yet to sign, the pharmaceutical industry will be impacted greatly either positively or negatively and called on the industry to upgrade in terms of technology and capacity to be able to compete with pharmaceutical companies from other African countries.
He said MAN is working with the Raw Materials Research and Development Council to make available some of their works to the indigenous companies to produce in commercial quantity.
SKG Pharma produces such household drugs as WATE-ON, King Tonic, Rulox, Woodrow’s Grip Water among others.