Chief executive officers of top pharmaceutical companies under the auspices of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group-Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, PMG-MAN are seeking N300 billion bailout funds from the Federal Government to enable them reposition the industry in anticipation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement take-off.
In an interview with this newspaper in Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer, Biotec Pharmaceutical Limited and a chieftain of PMG-MAN, Dr. Eugene Okorie, explained that the AfCFTA pact would put the country’s economy on the edge, especially the pharmaceutical sector’s contribution to the growth and development of GDP.
He said that the sector was in dire need of funding, saying that N300 billion bailout was needed very urgently to salvage the pharma industry if Nigeria does not want to remain a ‘dumping ground’ for all sorts of illicit drugs.
The pharmacist noted that getting the N300 billion bailout fund was the only way for the pharma industry to compete effectively under AfCFTA.
According to him, it will allow the industry to develop optimally and also export locally produced drugs to neighbouring countries.
The drug manufacturer explained that the bailout was also needed to support the development of the country’s pharmaceutical manufacturing companies to assist them engage in mass production of drugs since the industry is highly capital intensive.
Speaking further, Okorie stated that the country’s pharma sector currently employed over three million Nigerians, while the value chain in the industry could employ another 20 million, adding that it was a necessity in all ramifications.
Okorie said: “The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group, under the auspices of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN) has been trying to convince the Federal Government to provide some sort of support funding for the country’s pharmaceutical sector to develop the industry more optimally so that the industry can compete better.
“We are talking of AfCFTA agreement now. Nigeria has the largest population in Africa. We are almost 200 million people, whereas, the whole of African population is 1.2 billion. So, Nigeria is a bloc and every manufacturer of products in the continent will be targeting Nigeria and her markets when the continental free trade agreement kicks-off strongly.
“There will be a lot of trading into this country. So, the only way Nigeria can compete and benefit from that trade agreement for the pharmaceutical industry is to have an industry that is well developed in infrastructure and that can also export local drugs to other African countries.
“With the current state of the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria, we will not be able to compete effectively during AfCFTA, I must confess to you. So, the pharmaceutical industry via the PMG is asking from the Federal Government for some kind of support funds of about N300 billion to support the development of the industry rapidly.
“I want to request on behalf of the industry that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and his health counterpart help us take this message to Mr. President to consider our position so that we can get bailout to support the development of our country’s pharmaceutical industry.”