The Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria has appealed to the Federal Government to assist pharmaceutical companies to access low-interest rate funds to boost the production of cheap medicine.
ACPN National Chairman, Mr. Adewale Oladigbolu, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Lagos.
He said that access to low-cost finance would boost medicine production, reduce import dependence on medicine, and aid patients’ accessibility to drugs.
According to him, over 70 per cent of medicines sold in the country are imported, noting that the fluctuating and high foreign exchange rate has made drugs unaffordable for many patients.
He said, “We can’t borrow funds at over 20 per cent and compete with Chinese manufacturers whose government supports access to low-cost funds that enable them to produce and export.
“The production of some medicines has increased by over 100 per cent. For example, some GSK products that were previously sold at N4,000 are now being sold at N19,000.”
Oladigbolu lamented that patients are finding it difficult to cope, adding, “They come to the pharmacy to inquire about the drugs, but when they are told the price, they leave without purchasing and don’t return because they can’t afford it.
“They complain that household income hasn’t increased but medical expenses have soared beyond their reach.”
He said the call was necessary because it could worsen morbidity and mortality among citizens.
“If a country is not producing its drugs, it’s not medically secured,” the ACPN chairman said.
Oladigbolu noted that the cost of transportation, which had increased due to fuel price hikes, was another factor that had impacted the cost and supply of medicines.
The chairman appealed to the government to strengthen the National Health Insurance Authority to enable it to enrol more Nigerians and improve access to healthcare medicine and reduce out-of-pocket spending.
He also called for the removal of import duty on medicine and pharmaceutical raw materials to enhance access to medicines.
Oladigbolu appealed to the FG to increase investment in drug research, improve infrastructure, and boost the electricity supply to reduce dependence on power generators for production.
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