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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

NAFDAC Doesn’t Regulate Drug Prices, We Only Encourage Local Manufacturing — DG

Mojisola Adeyeye

Director-General (DG) of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Mojisola Adeyeye, says the organisation does not regulate the price of drugs in the country.

Adeyeye spoke on Tuesday at a webinar, “Addressing the escalating costs of medicines”, organised by TheCable to mark its 10th anniversary.

According to her, having more local pharmaceutical companies would help to bring down the rising prices of drugs as foreign manufacturers exit the country.

She also suggested the stabilisation of forex devaluation to encourage local manufacturers of drugs.

“If we do not focus on local manufacturing, we will continue to have drug insecurity.

“It is not a solution you can get overnight. There is nothing the multinationals are making that we cannot make in Nigeria. The one item we cannot make is the inhaler for asthma.

“When this issue started, pharmaceutical companies contacted us to ask if they could import some products and we gave them permission to import.

“NAFDAC reacts to shortages. If the company reaches out and we confirm there is a shortage, we ask them to import and we give them a faster registration process. These are the ways to reduce the impact of the exit of multinationals.

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“NAFDAC does not control or regulate prices. We control access. We make sure that products are accessible. If local manufacturers’ prices are higher than those imported, the reality is that local manufacturers import everything.

“But sometimes some of the things being imported may not be of quality. If it is too good to be true, it may not be true. The fact that local manufacturers’ prices are higher is the reality.

“The fact that the drug is cheap doesn’t mean it is of quality. The buyer must be careful. Don’t buy medicines from the street corners, buy from the pharmacies,” she said.

The NAFDAC DG warned that the country would continue to have “drug insecurity” if the government failed to focus on local manufacturing.

“In 2018 in Ilorin, Kwara, the National Association of Industrial Pharmacists invited me, and I categorically stated that we would change the narrative from 70 percent importation to 30 percent.

“But when we have had decades of decay, that couldn’t have happened overnight. In 2019, we started the five plus five directive.

“We did a study where the top five drugs that are imported are also the top five manufactured in Nigeria. We did that before the pandemic.

“From that initiative, more than 30 percent of companies in Nigeria are the result of the five plus five because many importers started building their own companies or partnering with local manufacturers through contract manufacturing. That is the way to make drugs available,” Adeyeye added.

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