In the past six years, Nigeria has incurred a staggering expenditure of N3.06tn on pharmaceutical imports, as revealed by a comprehensive report from the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC).
This alarming trend has sparked concerns among members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, who warn of a potential public health crisis if urgent measures are not taken to curb the nation’s reliance on imported pharmaceuticals.
According to the RMRDC report, the financial outlay for pharmaceutical imports witnessed a sharp increase over the years.
In 2016, Nigeria spent N126.1bn, followed by a marginal reduction to N118.9bn in 2017. However, the figures escalated significantly in 2018, reaching N185.5bn. The trend continued to surge, with 2019 recording imports of N520bn.
The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the situation, pushing the import bill to a staggering N1tn in 2020. Subsequent years saw expenditures of N544.4bn in 2021 and N445.7bn in 2022.
Key pharmaceutical products driving this surge include Heparin and its salts, vaccines, toxins, wadding, gauze, as well as mixed and unmixed medicines for retail sale.
In stark contrast, Nigeria’s export revenue in the pharmaceutical sector during the same period was a mere N3bn, resulting in a substantial trade deficit of N3.03tn.
The RMRDC report identifies a high dependency on foreign raw materials and products by Nigerian industries as a significant challenge, fostering the continuous influx of imported goods.
The Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State branch of PSN, Abasiama Uwatt, underscores the severity of the situation, highlighting the potential public health crisis looming due to the scarcity of forex.
Uwatt emphasizes that the forex crisis has already led to a doubling of drug prices within the past year, contributing to runaway inflation in the economy.
Moreover, disruptions in the medicine supply chain are now deemed a national security issue, with the overreliance on imported medicines leaving a detrimental impact on the local industry and the national economy.
Expressing grave concern, Uwatt sounds the alarm about the imminent threat to medicine security for millions of Nigerians.
The recent exit of GSK from Nigeria after 51 years serves as a stark example, showcasing the vulnerability of the country’s pharmaceutical industry despite its capacity to produce Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients.
Do you want to share a story with us? Do you want to advertise with us? Do you need publicity for a product, service, or event? Contact us on WhatsApp +2348183319097 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org