WHO denies Nigerian pharmaceutical companies certification
Tuesday, 05 June 2012
In spite of the N200 billion federal government intervention fund, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has denied Nigerian pharmaceutical companies certification.
Following the federal government’s resolve to encourage the production of local drugs in the country, the WHO commenced the auditing of eight qualified pharmaceutical companies six months ago, as part of the accreditation exercise to facilitate access to affordable medicines for Nigerians.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP, the Director-General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr Paul Orhii, disclosed that last year, Global Fund expended $4.7m acquiring medicines for donation to developing countries and Nigeria with a population of 150 million people was a major recipient of these donations.
He, however, noted that no single dollar was spent here because there was no single company that was pre-qualified, adding that the only countries on the African continent that are pre-qualified to produce medicines are those in South Africa, Morocco and Uganda and none at all in West Africa.
The NAFDAC DG disclosed that the federal government through the Bank of Industry set up a N200 billion intervention fund for the indigenous pharmaceutical manufacturing firms to take off so that the country can become self-sufficient in the supply of essential medicine and also become a main exporter of medicines.
According to him, indigenous production of drugs would reduce the country’s over-reliance on China and Indian products, adding that if Nigeria produces its own drugs, it would be able to ensure the safety of those drugs.
Unfortunately, the eight companies who were undergoing pre-qualification exercise by the WHO did not meet the laid down procedures for certification.
Giving insight during the presentation of the Gaps Analysis report to the Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, the WHO technical officer of the WHO’s pre-qualification programme in Geneva, Milan Smid advised that though the companies had opportunities for improvement, they had to work more and invest, so as to have pharmaceutical products of expected quality.
Responding, Chukwu said Nigeria once had very reputable companies producing drugs locally but ceased to be competitive due to economic challenges, stressing that it marked the beginning of decline for the country’s pharmaceutical industry.
However, the Director-General, Nigerian Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Prof Karmanius Gamanie, observed that it was cheaper to import drugs than to manufacture locally because of running costs.
He said, "Once we solve infrastructural problem like power, then local production can work. But this intervention fund will go a long way in solving Nigeria’s medicine needs".