Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industry recently received a boost with the launch of Zentiva, a Sanofi company last week. The event, which was described as an epoch-making occasion, attracted high-flyers in Nigeria’s pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. Zentiva is the third largest and fastest growing generics company in Europe that develops, manufactures and distributes high-quality and affordable generic drugs to improve and prolong the lives of patients.

Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Babatunde Ipaye while delivering his speech, said Zentiva’s entry into Nigeria would enhance accessibility to quality healthcare.

Ipaye lamented that there was a dire need for quality healthcare service in the country’s health sector, adding that there was a huge gap in the healthcare in this part of the world compared to what obtains in developed countries.

“Many citizens cannot afford the kind and quality medicines that are used in developed countries. So, one of the ways to get the citizens to afford qualitative drugs is to support companies that produce generic medicines. That is why I will align with organisations that explore innovative ways of providing qualitative and affordable healthcare products and services”, he noted.

The Managing Director of Sanofi Nigeria-Ghana, Mr. Abderrahmane Chakibi, said the company’s ambition is to increase access to healthcare through the provision of innovative medicines and disease management expertise. He added that the company continually invests in research and development activities in order to discover and develop new therapeutic solutions in response to emerging health challenges.

“One of our strategies is to continue to provide safe, effective and cost-effective medicines to support the driving down of overall healthcare costs. This is why we are today unveiling our rich portfolio of quality and cost effective generic medicines under the identity of Zentiva in Nigeria. It is in direct reinforcement of Sanofi’s ‘access to healthcare ambitions”, Chakibi said. He said further that Sanofi is strategically positioned to make the Zentiva brands available to all who need it in Nigeria.”

Director, Drug Evaluation and Research of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Mrs. Titilope Owolabi, at the occasion educated the audience on the difference between innovator, generics and counterfeit drugs. According to her, the innovator or branded drugs have undergone the process of research and development and have been patented and marketed; while generic drugs are the equivalent copies of the innovator drugs after the latter’s patents have expired. She further explained that generic drugs are subjected to the same level of regulatory scrutiny as the branded drugs and therefore must undergo similar process of quality assurance in their manufacture.

Chairman of the Health and Managed Care Association of Nigeria (HMCAN), Dr. Kolawole Owoka, said he was glad that a multinational company is launching generic drugs in Nigeria. He said, “When you know generic drugs are being manufactured by pharmaceutical companies of repute, you are rest assured that you are getting quality drugs.” Head of the Primary Care Business Unit, Sanofi Nigeria-Ghana, Mr. Gabriel Ogunyemi, said that with its generic products, Sanofi strengthens its commitment to providing patients around the world with reliable access to high-quality, safe, effective and affordable medicines.