By Sola Ogundipe
EXCEPT stakeholders in the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry begin to innovate towards the transformation of the industry, there may be no positive growth or production of globally competitive products and goods.
Identifying this gap, leaders of the pharmaceutical industry who gathered in Anambra State last week for the 22nd National conference of the Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria, NAIP, advocated for strategic innovations and a brand new approach to transform the nation’s pharmaceutical industry for maximum growth.
They said transformation of the pharmaceutical industry and its repositioning for maximum growth, required paradigm shift and disruptive innovations.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of the conference themed: “Disruptive Innovations: Unleashing The Nigerian Pharmaceutical Industry”,
National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa said it was high time pragmatic steps were taken to transform the industry, even as he stated that the PSN was collaborating with NAIP and other stakeholders to change the narrative of the pharmaceutical industry.
Ohuabunwa said he had mandated the PSN Research Documentation and Industry Liaison Committee to work with NAIP to fast track the process of implementing ideas that will transform the industry.
In his own remarks, the National Chairman, NAIP, Pharm. Ignatius Anukwu said the conference was organised to come up with a work-plan that wiould enable the industry kickstart a strategic re-positioning in order to develop and produce more innovative and competitive products.
Anukwu stated that if the goal is achieved, the pharmaceutical industry would be well positioned to contribute to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provide more medicines for local consumption while adding more value to her clientele.
He advocated for the establishment of pharmaceutical industrial parks and urged the Anambra State government to provide a portion of the space at its proposed industrial park for the pharmaceutical sector.
In a response, the Anambra State Commissioner for Health, Dr Joe Akabuike, said the government was ready to provide the enabling environment for industrial growth.
He pledged that the State was finalising the process of creating an industrial hub so that pharmacists can be allocated space in the planned pharmaceutical industrial park, noting that, the hub will be provided with all needed infrastructures for industrial production as demanded by local pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Further, Anukwu asked the government to provide arable land for cultivation of medicinal plants, stressing that many extracts of the nation’s indigenous plants are being used for the production of nutraceuticals all over the world.
Delivering the conference keynote address, Dr Anyakora while lamenting that 70 percent of finished pharmaceutical products used in Nigeria are imported stressed that a paradigm shift is required to unleash the Nigerian pharmaceutical workforce, adding that access to pharmaceuticals must be prioritised in health and industrial policies.
He charged stakeholders in the pharmaceutical sector to develop strategic plan and funding to advance pharmaceutical access, stating that it is also imperative to make significant investment in pharmaceutical workforce development.
Anyakora also asked stakeholders to develop a pharmaceutical development and bio-economic roadmap and package incentives to spur local manufacturing. While also presenting a paper at the conference on the topic: Making Nigeria Africa’s Pharmaceutical Hub Through Private Sector Initiatives, Prof Emeje said that Nigeria must rise up and accelerate the pace of drug discovery through convergence of technology, noting that African government and the pharma industries must express their willingness and commitment to support the partnership for the enhancement of pharmaceutical and health sectors in Africa.