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Pharmacist to FG: Remove Import Duty on Medicine, Raw Materials

The Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) has appealed to the Federal Government to remove import duty on the raw materials for medicines in order to encourage local production.

The National Chairman of the association, Adewale Oladigbolu, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Lagos.

He spoke against the backdrop of the recent exit of some multinational pharmaceutical firms from Nigeria, leading to scarcity and an increase in the prices of drugs.

The ACPN chairman said the Federal Government needed to encourage local drug manufacturers by waiving import duty on raw materials.

He also called for a strategic policy on prescribing and dispensing medicines to grow local brands.

Oladigbolu appealed to physicians to prescribe medicine in their generic name instead of brands.

“Why should physicians be prescribing Augmentin when we know that there are hundreds of similar products with the same efficacy available in the market registered by NAFDAC?

“If a physician writes Amoxicillin clavulanate capsule which is the generic name for Augmentin, the pharmacist can prescribe any available drug in the category,” he said.

According to him, Augmentin currently costs about N25,000 due to the exit of its producer from the country, whereas similar products sell for N2,500, but they perform exact functions. “That’s science,” he said.

On the exit of pharmaceutical companies and its impact on drugs, both in price and availability, Oladigbolu advised companies to give prior notice to NAFDAC.

He noted that regulations were in place to ensure that companies that intend to exit notify the Securities and Exchange Commission to protect shareholders.

According to him, similar regulations should be introduced and implemented through the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control to ensure medicine availability and protect patient safety.

“The company must file an exit application with NAFDAC indicating details of the products being manufactured, and state how to sustain the availability of such products in the market,” he said.

Oladigbolu noted that the application would enable NAFDAC to identify the sensitive products and number of patients on it and engage stakeholders on alternatives which might include local production or importation.

He noted that the current open drug distribution market operated in the country was leading to the proliferation of counterfeit medicines, treatment failures, and increased morbidity and mortality, among citizens.

He said the open drug market and stifling operating environment were affecting the survival of pharmaceutical companies leading to the increasing exit from the country.

The ACPN national chairman appealed to the Federal Government to improve the economic situation to enable businesses to thrive.