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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Minister announces that Tinubu will issue executive order to address increasing costs of drugs

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President Bola Tinubu will soon issue an executive order to address the rising cost of drugs and pharmaceutical products in Nigeria, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammed Pate, has said.

“The rising cost of pharmaceuticals is a pressing concern, and we are taking decisive action to address this issue,” he said on Wednesday during a ministerial briefing in Abuja.

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The minister added that the executive order, which will soon be issued, will curb escalating drug prices in the short term.

“Our mid to long-term goal involves the domestication of imported drugs within the next three years, in collaboration with the trade ministry,” he said.

Cost of drugs

The astronomical rise in the prices of drugs started last year with the exit of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Nigeria Plc, the second-biggest drug producer in Nigeria.

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GSK terminated its marketing and distribution agreement last August and appointed third-party distributors to sell their medications and vaccines in Nigeria.

Sanofi and some other foreign pharmaceutical companies have also announced leaving Nigeria.

According to the Vice President of the African HealthCare Federation, Clare Omatseye, some of the pharmaceutical companies exited the country due to challenges such as foreign exchange, ease of doing business, importation bureaucracy, multiple taxation, and malpractice within the industry.

Though the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said a total of 105 applications for the construction and erection of drug manufacturing facilities have been approved across the country, the increased cost of drugs remains –and could be for a while as only 35 per cent of the approved applications have completed construction.

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Pharmaceutical warehouses

On Wednesday, the minister also said the government has initiated the construction of pharmaceutical-grade warehouses in 21 states in collaboration with drug management agencies.

He said: “Two additional warehouses at the federal level are also underway, complemented by the installation of the Warehousing Management Information System (WMIS) – M Supply, in these 21 pharma-grade warehouses.

“This infrastructure development aligns with our commitment to improving health outcomes for citizens nationwide.”

According to the minister, these projects started in October and are scheduled for commissioning in April.

He said the implementation of the WMIS is expected to significantly enhance accountability and transparency, ensuring the potency of public health medicines and other health commodities.

He added: “Furthermore, the government has taken strides in advancing healthcare data management. Essential medicines and narcotics utilisation across the three levels of healthcare have been successfully boarded onto the National Health Logistics Management Information System (NHLMIS) platform. This decisive step not only strengthens our international image by enhancing medicines reporting but also establishes a robust framework for monitoring and optimising the supply chain.”

Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Newslodgein partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe

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