Home » Nigeria’s drug imports plunge as local production surges

Nigeria’s drug imports plunge as local production surges

by Victor Adetimilehin

Nigeria has seen a sharp decline in its pharmaceutical imports in the last two years, as local manufacturers ramp up their production and quality standards.

According to data from the International Trade Centre, a multilateral agency, the value of pharmaceutical products imported into Nigeria dropped by 63 percent from $2.84 billion in 2020 to $1.05 billion in 20221. The exports also reduced by 65 percent to $779 million in the same period.

The drop in imports has been attributed to various factors, such as difficulty in accessing foreign exchange, devaluation of the naira, and high inflation. These have made imported drugs more expensive and less affordable for many Nigerians.

However, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the regulatory body for drugs and food in Nigeria, has said that the decline in imports is also partly due to an increase in local production.

In a statement, NAFDAC said that it has introduced several policies and interventions to enhance and promote local pharmaceutical manufacturing. These include:

  • The 5+5 policy, which requires importers of drugs that can be locally produced to migrate to local manufacturing within five years or partner with existing local manufacturers.
  • The expansion of the ceiling list, which limits the importation of medicines that are already produced locally by at least four manufacturers.
  • The establishment of new pharmaceutical plants, which are guided by NAFDAC to ensure compliance with good manufacturing practices and international standards.
  • The tariff regime, which imposes higher fees on imported products than locally manufactured ones.
  • The international certification and risk-based classification of local manufacturers, which enables them to access regional and global markets.

NAFDAC said that as a result of these policies, many importers have either built new plants or entered into contractual agreements with local manufacturers. It also said that many existing local manufacturers have upgraded their facilities and obtained international accreditation.

The agency said that these developments have improved the quality, safety, and efficacy of locally produced drugs, as well as increased their availability and affordability.

NAFDAC also said that it is working with other stakeholders, such as the Federal Ministry of Health, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, to address the challenges facing the local pharmaceutical industry.

These include inadequate infrastructure, low patronage, high cost of raw materials, lack of skilled manpower, and weak enforcement of intellectual property rights.

The agency expressed its commitment to ensuring that Nigeria becomes self-sufficient in essential medicines and reduces its dependence on imports.

It also said that it is collaborating with other African countries to harmonize regulatory standards and facilitate trade within the continent.

NAFDAC said that it is optimistic that Nigeria will soon achieve its vision of becoming a hub for pharmaceutical innovation and production in Africa.

Source: BusinessDay

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