By Chioma Umeha
The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has called on the Federal Government to grant preferential provision of foreign exchange from the official market for pharmaceutical imports because of the security implications of scarcity of essential lifesaving pharmaceutical products to the nation.
The PSN made the call against the backdrop of the impact of recession and lack of foreign exchange (forex) on installed capacity in the pharmaceutical industry with high import dependence for machinery, active ingredients, raw and packaging materials.
The PSN reasoned the preferential provision for forex would enable pharmaceutical companies to pursue the target of the National Drug Policy for an increase in local production capacity to a level where 70 per cent of total output satisfies at least 60 per cent of national drug requirements of essential drugs, while the balance is exported.
These were contained in the Communiqué of the 89th Annual National Conference of the PSN tagged, “Power State 2016” held at the Hon. Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi International Conference Centre, Minna, Niger State from November 7 to 12, 2016.
Pharm. Olu Akanmu, Senior Vice President (Retail Banking), First City Monument Bank Plc, delivered the keynote address at the conference that was declared open by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by Prof. Isaac F. Adewole, the Minister of Health.
The theme of the conference was “Pharmaceutical Industry Contributions to National Development.”
In the communiqué signed by Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai and Pharm. Gbolagade Iyiola, President and National Secretary of PSN, respectively, the conference urged government to appreciate numerous obstacles and roadblocks that continue to afflict business innovation and growth in the pharmaceutical sector.
It admonished government to address the concerns through the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investments, Federal Ministry of Finance and Nigerian Customs Service by the use of tariff structures to incentivise local production and discourage importation of medicines that could be produced locally.
The conference appreciated the Minister of Health for advocating for the local production of long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLITN) in the country to save scarce foreign exchange.
It observed with delight the presidential-level ‘Ease of Doing Business’ reform efforts of the Federal Government which involves simplifying the procedures for the import of vital raw materials and components needed for local manufacture of drugs in Nigeria as well as ensuring consistency in Customs classifications and regulations.
The body therefore called on the pharmaceutical companies to formulate a formal and comprehensive National Strategy and Plan of Action for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing to improve the country’s international competitiveness ratings.
The conference commended government’s interest in developing the petrochemical industry in the country, saying it will trigger an impactful industrial revolution that is less import dependent, by so doing absorb the shocks of foreign exchange volatility, while fulfilling its task of providing needed pharmaceutical products for the teeming masses.
The communiqué noticed that a petrochemical industry guarantees availability of a plethora of chemical needs for meaningful industrial take-off and logically boosts National GDP in addition to the benefit of additional source of internally generated revenue.
While applauding the news of the continued growth of the Mega Drug Distribution project instituted by PSN NEC through its pet project, Ultra Logistics Company Limited, the communiqué noted with satisfaction the planned business-like approach being employed for its expansion.
It enjoined pharmacists that are yet to subscribe to empower themselves by investing in the business.
The conference however, lamented the slow pace at which Consultancy Cadre in Public Pharmacy Sector was being entrenched, appealing to Federal and state governments to activate the consultancy pharmacist philosophy by approving the consultant pharmacy status for all pharmacists that qualify for it.
The conference also called on government to reconstitute urgently the boards of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) to enable them carry out their much-needed roles as custodians and regulators of medicine and persons involved with the business of medicine.
It insisted that the appointments should be carried out in a lawful manner to avoid disruption in the equilibrium in the pharmaceutical sector witnessed in some previous dispensations at PCN and NAFDAC.
It also said that the regulatory functions of PCN including disciplinary action, accreditation of training facilities and other statutory responsibilities were hindered by the dissolution of the Governing Council of PCN.
It then drew the attention of the Federal Government to the condition precedent in law to appoint the Director General/Chief Executive Officer of NAFDAC as provided for in Section 9 of the NAFDAC enabling Act.
The conference congratulated the past presidents and in particular the Immediate Past National Executive Council (NEC), Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) and all Pharmacists on the approval by the National Universities Commission of the Pharm. D degree as the minimum benchmark qualification for pharmacists in Nigeria.
While noting the contribution of some Deans of Faculties of Pharmacy towards producing a timeline for the effective implementation of the Pharm. D. Programme in all Faculties of Pharmacy nationwide, it called on the PCN and the academia to develop sufficient pharmaceutical human resources and local technical capacity through relevant education and training for deployment to needed areas for pharmacy services.
The conference advocated the establishment of strong University-Industry partnership to promote technology innovation, entrepreneurship, supply chain and regulatory management to support the progressive movement of the local pharmaceutical industry to higher levels of the value chain.
It demanded stronger collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry and the academia in research and drug development to produce both locally available active molecules and other raw materials as one of the ways to attain self-sufficiency in local drug manufacture.
The pharmacists commended the efforts of the Pharmacists’ Council of Nigeria(PCN) to rid the country of Open Drug Markets using a diplomatic, open-dialogue approach between stakeholders and governments in affected states, believing that the approach if well-managed would rest the menace of indiscriminate sales of medicines in unregistered places in the country.
It mandated the PCN to commence “mobilisation of players in existing Open Drug Markets to embrace the inevitable relocation to coordinated wholesale centres (CWCs) in a bid to make the deadline of July 31, 2017 to close Open Drug Markets a reality in Nigeria.”
The conference called on pharmacy inclined regulatory agencies, pharmacy associations and key leaders in community pharmacy to engage with government and other healthcare professionals to develop appropriate policies to institutionalise pharmaceutical care and public health oriented pharmacy services to enable practitioners practise the roles in a standardised manner.
At the end of the conference, the AGM elected the following pharmacists to serve and pilot the affairs of the society for the next one year. They are Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, President; Pharm. Daniel Orumwense, Deputy President (South); Pharm. John Enger, Deputy President (North); Pharm. GbolagadeIyiola, National Secretary; and Pharm. Uzoma Nwigudu, Asst. National Secretary.
Others are Pharm. Emeka Callistus Duru, National Treasurer; Pharm. Chinyere Osakwe, National Financial Secretary; Pharm. (Mrs.) Arinola E. Joda, National Publicity Secretary; Pharm. (Mrs.) Bolajoko Aina, Editor-in-Chief; Pharm. Amid Olanrewaju Alege, Internal Auditor; Pharm. Victor Okwuosa, Unofficial Member; Pharm. Idris Pada, Unofficial Member, Pharm. Olumide Akintayo; Immediate Past President.