Pharmacists in the country have called on the Federal Government to give a special foreign exchange rate on importation of raw materials by drug manufacturing companies.
The call was made in Ibadan on Tuesday by the Chairman, Oyo State branch of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mr Abiodun Ajibade.
He also advised government to set up pharmaceutical manufacturing industrial estates with infrastructural facilities such as power, water and roads to encourage local manufacturers.
While briefing reporters on the activities marking the 2017 World Pharmacists Day and Pharmacy Week, Ajibade explained that reducing exchange rate for drug raw materials is one of the immediate key steps government can take to leverage on the potentials of the sector.
He stressed that the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector is a multi-billion dollar business with the capacity to create wealth and employment opportunites in the country.
He also argued that foreign donors, who already have five centers in Nigeria for drug support, should be stopped from importing drugs that can be made in Nigeria.
The PSN chairman added that governments at all levels should stop issuing Local Purchasing Order (LPO) to politicians for supply of drugs because they just import the drugs into the country at the expense of local drug manufacturers.
Ajibade said that if those steps were taken, incidents of fake drugs will be drastically reduced while thousands of jobs will be created with government earning tax revenue in multiple ways.
But with over 80 per cent of drugs in Nigeria imported, Ajibade said local drug manufacturers will continue to struggle while Nigeria helps other countries provide jobs for their own citizens.
He said: “Pharmaceutical industry has been the major economic frontiers of some nations. If in Nigeria, we take tactical steps to empower the pharmaceutical sector, our story as a nation will rapidly change. The current exchange rate of over N370 to one United States dollar is not going to help our economy. We can not continue to export our fund all in the name of procuring medicines from abroad and expect same money to cause local industrial revolution.
“The various tiers of government spend heavily on drug provisions and out-of-pocket spending on drugs by average Nigerians is not a small amount. If our drugs are sourced locally, we can imagine great fortune awaits us…”
He said the development of the pharmaceutical industry is the strength observed in India and China which are currently global pharmaceutical hubs.
The Pharmacy Week commenced on Tuesday with an enlightenment programme where pharmacists educated commercial drivers on the dangers of drug abuse and related issues.