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Thursday, May 23, 2024

NAFDAC Director General warns that over-reliance on imports is driving up drug costs in Nigeria.

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The Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Mojisola Adeyeye, has said Nigeria’s over-reliance on imports and foreign products contributes more to the rising cost of medications nationwide.

She spoke on Tuesday at a webinar event organised by The Cable Newspaper as part of the activities to mark its 10th anniversary.


Mrs Adeyeye said the dependence on imported drugs, rather than locally manufactured drugs, is responsible for drug inflation and insecurity in the country.

She pointed out that the number of drugs manufactured locally has been lower compared to those produced by foreign pharmaceutical companies and imported into the country, adding that all the items used for manufacturing drugs locally are also imported.

According to her, this has contributed significantly to drug insecurity and restricted access to medication and medical care caused by an over-inflated cost.


“Our local drug manufacturers import everything except water. We import everything. All pharmaceutical ingredients are imported into the country, and as a result, locally-made drugs are not easily affordable,” she said.

Why drug cost inflation?

The DG urged local companies to begin local production of necessary ingredients and reduce reliance on imports.

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She said: “The reliance on foreign products causes drug insecurity, especially with the devaluation of naira. What a manufacturer could buy for N3 now goes for N10. That was what drove up the cost of drugs. The problem with this is when drug costs go up, and the unscrupulous will start to produce and distribute fake drugs. We already have that.

“I challenge my colleagues in the industry. We need to start making some ingredients locally”.

Highlighting the need for local production, she disclosed that Emzor, one of Nigeria’s leading pharmaceutical companies, is set to launch a new drug factory in Sagamu in Ogun state.

“The company will be making three antimalarial drugs. This development is going to reduce the cost of drugs eventually.”

She noted that more companies need to manufacture drugs using locally-made ingredients like Emzor is set to do.

She also noted that strict policies and regulations must be in place to ensure that local pharmaceutical companies thrive.


Speaking further, Mrs Adeyeye emphasised the need to assist pharmaceutical companies with favourable regulations and policies.

She said without proper regulation, a rise in the local production of drugs to meet public demand would not be possible.

“If we do not focus on local manufacturing and resuscitate our local pharmaceutical companies from the regulatory perspective, we will have major drug insecurity.

“We cannot start manufacturing locally without strengthening the regulations for local manufacturing of APIs,” she said.

“We are hand-holding with manufacturers from syringes to antibiotics to ensure that they use international standards to get the requisite qualification, provide drugs for citizens and be available globally,” she added.


Meanwhile, as part of the effort to ensure that the drug market is not saturated with cheap but fake and unregistered drugs, Mrs Adeyeye said NAFDAC has since upgraded to the use of technology to track drugs circulated across the country.

According to her, NAFDAC is the number one in Africa for using technology to track fake drugs and monitor the supply chain.

READ ALSO: Sugar in Infant Formulas: NAFDAC speaks on NESTLE products in Nigeria

She said: “Our work is 24/7 regarding regulation and control of substandard, falsified drugs. We do unannounced inspections for all our local manufacturers.

“So it is not just about access. We are also concerned about quality. It’s not medicine; it is quality medicine. We go after those producing fake medicine.

“In February, we went after the open drug marketers.

Some manufacturers and importers use the open market to sell substandard medicine.”


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