By Chioma Obinna
Worried about the skyrocketing cost of drugs in the country, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, has declared its moves to boost local capacity for manufacturing essential medicines including COVID-19 vaccines to ensure medicine security.
Addressing journalists in Lagos, the President of PSN, Prof. Cyril Usifoh, said Nigeria must begin to look inward as regards drugs and vaccines productions as the country needs medicine security.
“Just the way we are advocating for food security, we also need to advocate for medicine security. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us a vital lesson that we have ignored for years, and that is the need for pharmaceutical companies to produce drugs and Vaccines locally,” Usifoh added.
The newly elected President of PSN disclosed that one of his five-point agenda was to support local manufacturing pharmaceutical companies adding that, the manufacturing of essential medicines will improve Nigeria’s health system.
“We will make sure that the local manufacturing industry is supported. we will visit them, know what their needs are and try to meet them.”
“We’ll boost local capacity for manufacturing of essential medicines including vaccines while ensuring availability of medicines which cannot be manufactured by the local industry for the health system. In addition, I will ensure significant improvement in R$D by looking for alternative sources of funding apart from government sources to NIPRID, faculties of pharmacies, DRPU, Centre for Drug Development and related platforms.
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“Establishment of the National Post-Graduate College of Pharmacists to complement our consultancy cadre agenda, while also working with NAFDAC, PCN and relevant stakeholders. Within the last two months, we have been able to collaborate with the appropriate agency and community pharmacies are now centres for COVID-19 vaccinations.”
For the local production of drugs and Vaccines to be feasible, Usifoh who announced that the PSN will be holding a presidential inauguration and fellowship investiture in Abuja next week said they will work with the Nigerian government and refineries like Dangote refinery to convert petrochemicals into Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), used in the production of drugs.
“PSN will work with government; we will let them realise that it is important that we have our petrochemicals that are used to produce APIs. When we have the basic APIs, we can start producing a larger percentage of these drugs locally. We plan to pay an advocacy visit to Dangote refinery, to ensure that he puts in place the technology to produce APIs for the production of drugs, to reduce the importation of the ingredients into the country.
“We will also ensure significant improvement in Research and Development (R&D) by looking for an alternative source of funding apart from government sources to Faculties of Pharmacies, Centre for Drug Development and related platforms,” he added.
Usifoh however said the next couple of months, he will ensure the improved relationship with the government (both the executive and legislative) to ensure the right of every Nigerian to pharmaceutical care and establish the National Post-graduate College of Pharmacists to complement the consultancy cadre agenda, while working with the National Agency for Food Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC), the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) and relevant stakeholders, among others.
He further said that one of the agendas of the PSN was to promote advocacy to fast-track the recognition of community pharmacies as primary care centres.
“My pact with my colleagues was encapsulated in the five-point agenda which outlined my vision for the society as the president. These include institutionalising the PharmD programme and consultancy cadre agenda to enhance service potential and catalyse an increase in the ways of hospital and academic pharmacists.”
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