Nigeria’s federal government has explained that the exit of pharmaceuticals from Nigeria was due to the non-domestication of their products in the country.
The Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Tunji Alausa, made this disclosure at a World Cancer Day symposium organised by Project Pink Blue with the theme: “Economy, Tax and Cancer Control: The Exit of Pharmaceuticals from Nigeria” held in Abuja, on Tuesday.
He further dismissed reports making the rounds that the reason behind pharmaceutical companies exit from Nigeria was because of difficulty in doing business, stating emphatically that it was not the case.
According to him, “We have to change this narrative of companies leaving our country because of difficulty of doing business, that’s not correct. Let’s face the fact, Nigeria is endowed with abundance of manpower.
“If you go to any advanced democratic nation, the biggest chunk of any operating cost to run a business is personnel, we have it in abundance in Nigeria, at a very reasonably and cheap rate.
“These pharmaceutical companies left because we have pharmaceutical laws. There’s a NAFDAC policy of 5+5, after you have marketed drugs for five years, they are expected to domesticate their production.
“They didn’t domesticate their production, so they continued to market for decades. Now we’re reviewing our pharmaceutical laws to ensure we are not in this bad situation again.
“As companies are leaving, the country is ripe for investment, other companies will come, we have abundance of opportunities here to manufacture. We have a population of 220 million, that’s a big consuming population.
“There’s a new interest in coming back to the country. We have President Bola Ahmed Tinubu that is quickly working out the ease of doing business in the country. Our country is going to become the destination of investors in the nearest future, the policies are being put together.
“So when a few companies exit, we shouldn’t be worried, we are working to encourage more companies to come in the country and we are also domesticating and enhancing our pharmaceutical companies to fill those gaps.”
Alausa beseeched Nigerians that the federal government was empathetic towards the rising cost of pharmaceuticals and consumables in the country and that executive orders will be issued to that effect.
He said, “I feel the pain of Nigerians, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu feels the pain of Nigerians especially with this high cost of pharmaceuticals and consumables. But Tinubu has moved so quickly to palliate these high cost of pharmaceuticals and consumables so that in the near future, the citizens will begin to enjoy reasonable significant reduction in prices.
“What we’ve done at the last Executive Council meeting, Tinubu made sure we discussed what needed to be done in immediate, short term and long term solutions to these problems.
“The immediate solution we said was that Tinubu will be coming up with a set of executive order. As you know executive orders are laws to support pharmaceutical companies so that prices will come down and citizens of our country will begin to see the benefit of all this.”
On his part, Executive Director, Project Pink Blue, Runcie Chidebe, emphasised the importance of the symposium, saying it was due to the suffering of patients and called for a decentralisation of cancer control in Nigeria.