Waiver being granted to drug importers has affected local pharmaceutical firms
●Import surges from 21.3% to 279.7%
Bayo Akomolafe Nigeria has shifted to France, Denmark and Singapore to take delivery of some pharmaceutical products valued at N231.05 bilion ($502.3million) in the last one year. This is coming as the Federal Government had decried the influx of counterfeit pharmaceutical products from China and Indian.
Already, government has said that it would commence pre-shipment analysis of imported drugs coming from the two countries into the Nigeria. Findings by New Telegraph revealed that importation of drugs from France had surged from eight per cent to 92 per cent, Denmark, form 11.6 per cent to 89.4 per cent and Singarpore from 1.7per cent to 98.3 per cent within one year.
According to data by the International Trade Statistics on Nigerian imports, drugs ferried from France to Nigeria rose from $19.5million in 2018 to $242.8million in 2019.
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Also, Denmark and Singapore export up $16.2 million to $152.9 million and $1.9 million to $106.6 million respectively in the same period. Worried by the influx of foreign drugs into the country, the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN) said that local drug manufacturers may soon close shop since almost all finished pharmaceutical products were imported into the country.
The group blamed the challenge faced by local drug firms on inconsistent government policies, which has deterred investors and killing local drug manufacturing from the industry.
The group noted that if the local industry is not supported by the Federal Government, Nigeria would soon depend 100 per cent on importation of foreign medicines.
It was gathered that more drugs would be imported into the country this year following the waiver granted to importers as part of efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic amid the official exchange rate, which has moved from N307 to over N380, while the parallels market is now between N460 and N500 to $1.
In May this year, the Federal Government approved that import duty should be waived for medical equipment and supplies to strengthen health infrastructure in response to the COVID19 crisis.
The import duty waiver covers medical equipment such as ventilators, test kits, personal protective gear, thermometers, disinfectants and medical consumables.
It would be recalled recently that the Supply Chain Management (SCM) –Material managers committee of PMG-MAN complained that some government agencies such as Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), National Agency For Food, Drug Administration and control (NAFDAC) and National Security Agencies (NSA) were duplicating duties in the inspection process at the port.
They noted that finished pharmaceuticals product were imported into the country including those that fall under the import prohibition list NAFDAC had said that importation of so many products, particularly drugs, had negative impact on the nation’s economy.
The Director General of the agency, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, expressed concerns recently in Abuja that Nigeria had depended so much on foreign goods, noting that such dependence would not grow the country’s economy but rather retard its development. Adeyeye had said that only water was not imported by pharmacists into the country.
She noted that COVID-19 had caused increase in prices of imported goods as the country has over the years neglected local industries and local production. She added that the agency would welcome herbal practitioners who are ready to show their experience with scientific proof to treat COVID-19.