‘Economic Situation Affecting Drug Availability and Affordability in Nigeria’


Martins Ifijeh
Following the economic downturn in the country, the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) has raised the alarm that some important drugs were going out of the Nigerian market, while the available ones were becoming too expensive for the ordinary Nigerians to purchase.

Revealing this in Lagos during the celebration of ACPN Day in Iju Ishaga, the Chairman of the Lagos branch of the association, Pharm. Biola Paul-Ozieh, said the high foreign exchange rate and the consequent high cost of purchase and importation of medicines were discouraging importers from importing medicines, as they are unable to get their funds back when they sell their products in the country.

She said the situation has also caused the increase in the products that have been imported, adding that this was affecting the affordability of medicines among the ordinary Nigerians who pay-out-of-pocket for their healthcare.

According to her, one of the ways of getting out of the situation was for the government, stakeholders and pharmaceutical organisations to encourage local productions of drugs, adding that this would make medicines available and affordable to the citizens.

“There can’t be standard healthcare system if it is not accessible, affordable, as well as available to all. Hence, we must be able to make our drugs locally if we want to achieve this in the pharmaceutical sector. If 80 per cent of our drugs are made in Nigeria, they will be available, accessible and affordable to all Nigerians,” she added.

Paul-Ozieh also noted that Nigerians need to know the right places to access medicines, adding that any pharmacy that does not have the green cross sign should not be patronised. “Pharmacies that have the green cross sign is the appropriate place for Nigerians to get drugs because the sign means the pharmacy is registered by government, as well as also have pharmacists manning the facility.

“Do not go to any pharmacy without the sign, because there is no guarantee that their drugs are authentic,” adding that, “buying drugs from quacks and unprofessionals could cause more harm to your body,” she added.

She also advised Nigerians against over-the-counter drugs, adding that abuse of controlled drugs could damage the user, as well as have negative effect on the society at large.

The Chairman called on the government to increase enforcement against drug hawking, which she said was becoming a common menace in the society. “Those who sell drugs in trays under the sun, in buses, at night, among others should be cleared from our society, because they are doing more harm to Nigerians than we can imagine,” she added.
Lending his voice, the former Chairman, Lagos branch, ACPN, Pharm. Oyewole Anthony, said Nigerians must be able to different genuine and fake drugs through proper identification of registered pharmacies and unregistered ones.

“Only patronise the pharmacies with the green cross sign. The sign is usually placed as a signpost in front of the pharmacy where it is visible to everyone,” he added.