Health

Pharmacists and NAFDAC Praise Tinubu’s Executive Order on Healthcare Products

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Pharmacists and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) have lauded President Bola Tinubu for signing an Executive Order to boost local production of healthcare products.

In separate interviews, pharmacists discussed other policies that could further strengthen local pharmaceutical capacity and industry.

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The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate, announced on Friday via X handle that President Tinubu signed the executive order to increase local production of healthcare products, including pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, devices like needles and syringes, biologicals, and medical textiles.

Pate stated that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, will take the next steps towards codifying the new order.

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According to Pate, the order is crucial for the success of the Presidential Initiative for Unlocking the Healthcare Value Chain, approved in October 2023 by the President. The order introduces zero tariffs, excise duties, and VAT on specified machinery, equipment, and raw materials to reduce production costs and enhance the competitiveness of local manufacturers. These specified items include Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, excipients, and other essential raw materials required for manufacturing crucial health products like drugs, syringes, needles, Long-lasting Insecticidal Nets, and Rapid Diagnostic Kits.

The order also includes market-shaping mechanisms such as framework contracts and volume guarantees to encourage local manufacturers. It mandates collaboration between the Ministers of Health, Finance, and Industry, Trade and Investment to develop a Harmonised Implementation Framework to expedite regulatory approvals and reduce bottlenecks.

“Agencies including the Nigeria Customs Service, NAFDAC, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, and the Federal Inland Revenue Service will ensure swift implementation, with special waivers and exemptions effective for two years,” Pate said.

The order aims to use market-based incentives to encourage medical industrialization, reduce medical product costs through import substitution, create and retain economic value, and enable job creation in the healthcare value chain.

“We thank Mr President for his courage and commitment to ensure Nigeria is put back on the path to prosperity. We also thank all who contributed to the ideas that culminated in the consensus that resulted in this key milestone,” Pate wrote.

The National Chairman of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, Adewale Oladigbolu, commended Tinubu, stating that the executive order would stabilize drug prices over time.

The Director of Enforcement at the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, Stephen Esumobi, also praised the order, saying it would improve the capacity utilization of local pharmaceutical industries, leading to increased employment opportunities.

“It will reduce the cost of production of medicines, leading to lower prices. Also, it will improve the availability of essential medicines. By the time the benefits start rolling in, the president can decide to extend it. This is a very good development for our nation,” Esumobi said.

A former President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Ahmed Yakasai, called the order a step in the right direction. Yakasai, who is also an advisor to the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, emphasized the need to harness collective strengths to build a thriving ecosystem of local pharmaceutical manufacturing that caters to the needs of the Nigerian people and beyond.

Yakasai noted the importance of addressing infrastructural challenges, streamlining bureaucratic processes, fostering a conducive business environment, investing in research and development, empowering local entrepreneurs, and cultivating a skilled workforce. He also highlighted the need for sustainability in local manufacturing processes.

The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, stated that the order was vital for the success of the Nigeria Health Sector Renewal Investment Initiative, which aims to address longstanding challenges and improve health outcomes.

For more details, read the full article here.

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