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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Cost of medicines: Emzor to start producing pharmaceutical ingredients in Nigeria

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Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Limited, an indigenous pan-African manufacturer and distributor of medicines and surgical equipment, among others, has announced its readiness to commence local manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) plants.

The move is part of the benefits of Nigeria’s efforts to address the rising cost of drugs and other medical consumables in the country.

The plant is expected to begin local API production before the end of the year, according to the company’s Chief Strategy Officer, Funke Asiru.

Ms Asiru was speaking at the 9th Nigeria-EU Business Forum (NEUBF) forum, titled: “Investing in Jobs and Sustainable Future”, organised by EUinNigeria under the EU Global Gateway.

He said the move is aimed at improving the country’s healthcare system as the facility will produce APIs for various drugs, including those used to treat malaria and cancer.

In April, Emzor announced plans to build an API plant in Sagamu, Ogun State, worth $23 million (about N25 billion) to combat the widespread threat of malaria in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa.

Funding, API creation

According to Ms Asiru, the project is being financed by the European Investment Bank (EIB).

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“We have started to make our investments with the European Investment Bank (EIB), but we are not there yet. By the end of the year, with God’s grace, we will achieve it,” he said.

He further stated that the establishment of the API plant is considered a significant development in Nigeria’s healthcare sector as it will reduce the country’s dependence on imported drugs and improve access to quality healthcare for millions of Nigerians.

He said that “COVID-19 has disrupted the global supply chain. Therefore, by producing our medicines, we will reduce our vulnerability.”

Impact of COVID-19

Ms Asiru said the need for an indigenous API arose during the COVID-19 outbreak, recalling that developments leading to border closures made importation difficult.

She said: “COVID showed us that, you know, sometimes there is no way. So in our case, we get our APIs from India, from China. I will never forget the day when the headline came out that said the whole world is losing its borders.

“And we thought, well, we can’t just leave everything. So everyone said, I’m going to take care of myself. The Indians said the same thing, and suddenly we were out of API.”

New executive order

Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu recently signed a new executive order aimed at boosting local production of health products and reducing costs.

Targeted medical devices include pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, devices such as needles and syringes, biological products and medical textiles.

According to Coordinating Minister for Health and Social Welfare Muhammad Pate, the new order has introduced zero duty, excise duty and VAT on specific machinery, equipment and raw materials.

Mr. Pate noted that the order is critical to the success of the initiative to unlock the healthcare value chain, which was approved in October 2023 by the President.

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