The Director-General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, has stated the agency’s commitment to improving the local production of drugs in the country.

This, she said, would help address the high cost of drugs nationwide.

Adeyeye stated this at a webinar lecture organised by The Cable Newspaper to celebrate its 10th anniversary with the theme, ‘Addressing Costs of Medicines’.

In the statement by NAFDAC’s Resident Media Consultant, Sayo Akintola, on Sunday, Adeyeye said the administration of President Tinubu administration stresses the significance of local content which is in tandem with the agency’s goals, thereby leading to “an increase in the nation’s GDP” and a reduced unemployment rate.
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She said that “locally manufactured medicinal products would be more accessible and affordable compared to the imported drugs,” while the “rejuvenation” of the local pharmaceutical industry will become a “panacea for the high cost of medicines in the country,” the statement partly read.

The NAFDAC boss blamed the devaluation of the naira as a significant factor for the high cost of local production, as the high exchange rate had made procurement of raw materials and equipment imported for production extremely high.

Because of this, the DG said, “Two multinationals left which caused the cost of drugs they produce to go up.”

Adeyeye lauded the ‘5 plus 5’ regulatory scheme which she said, has improved the availability and accessibility of drugs

“To encourage the local pharmaceutical industry to grow, Prof Adeyeye reiterated that NAFDAC under her leadership started the “5 plus 5” regulatory scheme where a company that has been importing drugs that the local pharmaceutical industry is able to produce will get a last five-year renewal.

“During the five-year renewal period, the importer must migrate to local manufacturing or partner with a local manufacturer.

“This is an outcome of a study that was done in 2019 that revealed that the top 5 drugs that are imported are also the top 5 drugs that are manufactured in Nigeria,” the statement read.

Adeyeye noted that from that initiative, “more than 30 per cent of new companies in Nigeria are results of the ‘5 plus 5’ scheme, which has many importers to start “building their own companies or partnering with local manufacturers through contract manufacturing,” saying, “That is access. That’s the way to make drugs available, accessible.”

The NAFDAC DG said, ‘’Our manufacturers import everything except water’,’ she said, adding that the raw materials – Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) and the non-active called Excipients are all imported.

‘’I told the industry operators that we need to start making some APIs locally and that has resulted in EMZOR almost completing their facilities in Shagamu. They are going to be making four anti-malaria APIs – sulfadoxime, Pyrimethamine, Artemether and Lumefantrine. The Fidson consortium is also planning to manufacture some APIs. The DG said the initiative was aimed at reducing the cost of drugs eventually.
‘’But we cannot start manufacturing locally without strengthening the regulations because we have never regulated local manufacturing of APIs.”

Adeyeye stated that NAFDAC would deploy traceability technology to monitor the supply chain, to check the “substandard falsified medicines.”

Speaking in the same vein, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate assured Nigerians that the various policy measures already put in place by the President would soon begin to reflect positively on the cost of essential medical commodities.

The minister noted that the escalating costs of pharmaceuticals are part of the global phenomenon, expressing regrets that Nigeria has been doing catch-up for the past 20 years.

‘’We are working hard to do so through the Presidential Initiative to unlock the pharmaceutical value chain that the President announced in October 2023. But two pockets of issues underlying what we are observing now. Nigerians are hurting.

“There’s forex devaluation which is on the supply side – the ability to buy materials, equipment and the infrastructure deficit. Some infrastructure for manufacturing that we have is not at the level that could meet up the demand that we have,’’ he said.