NIGERIA is set to join the global drug manufacturing countries, as the World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday certified three Nigerian pharmaceutical manufacturing companies to produce international drugs.
The three drug manufacturing companies Evans Pharmaceutical Ltd, May & Baker Pharmaceutical Ltd and Chi Pharmaceutical Ltd produce drugs locally in accordance with WHO Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) after the Audits/ Inspections by WHO Pre-qualification team.
The Ministry of Health announced in Abuja yesterday that the World Health Organizations (WHO) had officially certified three additional Nigerian pharmaceutical manufacturing companies to produce drugs for global use.
Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, described the development as a landmark achievement, which brings the total of Nigerian companies manufacturing drugs locally to four. A Nigerian firm, Swiss Pharma Nigeria Limited already had WHO certification for global production.
He said the three firms were certified to join other companies within Africa and outside to produce medicines for Malaria, Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), Tuberculosis and other United Nations (UN) coordinated projects, example the UN Commission on Life Commodities.
“By this laudable achievement Nigeria is recorded among the nations of the world whose local drug industries manufacture at WHO standards. The WHO GMP standard is the international norm and Nigeria has joined the world in this global phenomenon.
“The world now awaits products such as Artemether-Lumefantrine tablets for Malaria, Lamivudine tablets for HIV/AIDS, Levoflaxine tablets for tuberculosis, Zinc sulphate tablets for treatment of diarrhea, fluconazole injections, ciprofloxacine tablets and many more all made in Nigeria to be pre qualified by the WHO soonest and the companies in question will begin to compete favourably with pharmaceutical companies world over in international bidding processes for medicines supplies in relevant global health programmes.
“The issue of WHO Pre qualification has been one of the major challenges of the Nigerian local drug industries and is of great concern to Government because money/resources are being lost by Government for non WHO Pre qualification of our local drug Manufacturing companies.”
The minister however observed the implications of Nigeria not being WHO Pre qualification by the local drug Manufacturing industry to include that Nigerian Local drug Manufacturing companies cannot and have not been participating in international drug supply bidding exercise/tender that are sponsored by the Global Funds and other international development arrangements.
He went on: “ Today the situation has changed because as earlier mentioned products pre qualification will happen hopefully by the end of 2014 and the companies in question will begin to participate in international tenders for medicines supplies.
“This is another landmark achievement of Government under the Transformation Agenda of President Jonathan’s administration towards placing the Nigerian Pharmaceutical Sector on the global trend of affairs and towards the enhancement of availability of good quality medicines in the Healthcare delivery system of Nigerian,
“On the whole eleven (11) companies started this Journey and four (4) have scaled the hurdle; I am optimistic that the remaining seven (7) will be pre qualified soonest while others are aspiring to join the race.
“To attain the WHO Pre qualification is capital intensive and Government is aware of the huge expenditure incurred by the local drug industry to the tune of about $600, 000,000 dollars in pursuance of this cause.
In this regard government will consider certain incentives such as tax holidays and increased level of patronage in order to enable the local drug industry to recoup. With this international vote of confidence it is expected that international procurers of essential medicines will improve the patronage of Nigerian/African-based Pharmaceutical manufacturers.”
by EMEKA ANUFORO
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