THE Federal Government said it had partnered with some select pharmaceutical firms to improve local manufacturing of drugs in Nigeria.
The Minister of Health and the Coordinating Minister for Social Welfare, Mohammed Ali Pate stated this on October 11, 2023, while featuring on Channels Television’s morning magazine programme, “Sunrise Daily.”
Despite not disclosing the pharmaceutical firms involved, the Minister said drugs manufactured under this partnership would have a branded National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) logo to guarantee quality and affordability.
“We have entered into medical partnerships with some pharmaceutical companies to explore options in some key medicines branded with the NHIS logo to guarantee qualities and cost reduction,” he said.
He stressed that the initiative would lower costs for those covered in health insurance for some high-cost medications.
“This would help to lower out-of-pocket expenditures and pharmaceuticals, which pushes most people into poverty,” Pate said.
He explained that the NHIA Director-General and his counterpart in the Nigeria Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) were working with the firms to improve affordability and quality.
Pate also decried 70 per cent of the importation of medications into the country, which he said created proper monitoring risks for such drugs. “Nigeria doesn’t have full control over such medications and imported,” he said.
He said the Federal Government was working with states to ensure they domesticate health insurance in their respective states and enrol more Nigerians into the insurance pool for universal coverage.
Nigerians, many of whom are not captured in the NHIA and paying out-of-pocket, are being hard hit by Nigeria’s current exchange rate problems.
The rising cost of drugs has been largely attributed to cost-push inflation since Nigeria largely imports most of its medicines, which are not exempted from exchange rate volatility.
In August, The ICIR reported how GlaxoSmithKline(GSK), notable for prescribable medicine like Augmentin and Amoxil, disclosed its strategic intent to stop the commercialisation of its prescription medicine and vaccines in Nigeria and transition to a third-party distribution model for its pharmaceutical products, citing foreign exchange concerns.
Pate said Nigeria would be addressing rising medicine costs by tapping into global vaccine production supported by the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiatives (GAVI) to intensify local production of medicines and improve universal health coverage.
Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.