Seeking Untapped Potential in African Pharma Markets

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With the untapped potential in the African Pharma Markets, only three percent of global drug production comes from Africa, mainly from a handful of “hubs” or from “pharmerging.” Oluchi Chibuzor writes that consequently, this poses several problems, making it complicated for local manufacturers

Africa has been recorded as the last frontier for Pharma Manufacturing Investment, with the population boom and increased disease burden.

The high costs related to transport irreversibly increases the final price of drugs, the supply of stocks is, in fact, dependent on delivery times, which are sometimes very long, and in particular there is a greater risk of seeing the development of counterfeit or lower quality products on local markets. The question of the quality of drugs is indeed a vital issue. The establishment of parallel channels, very much helped by the fragmentation of distribution chains and the proliferation of lower quality or even completely ineffective counterfeit drugs, is a real threat.

The current over-dependence on imported medicine is not only an economic and health security sabotage, but also a national security challenge. Ebola Epidemic case study comes to mind always, on the need for government as a matter of urgency, to prioritise the local pharmaceutical industry with government incentives and protectionist policies, -just like India, China and Bangladesh did to get to where they are in the industry.

However, Nigeria is said to be the next frontier for pharma manufacturing investment in Africa, after South Africa and North Africa, with a population boom of approximately 200 million, and growth rate at 2.7 per cent according to population reference Bureau.

Despite its dominance within the ECOWAS sub-region in drug manufacturing, Nigeria’s quest to become self-sufficient in drug production is bleak as it loses over N1.5 billion annually to the importation of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), raw materials used in finished pharmaceutical products which have direct effect in the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of diseases from India, United States of America, Germany, etc, experts have said.

To this end, the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN) in collaboration with GPE Expo PVT, has concluded arrangements to hold the Nigerian Pharma Manufacturers Expo (NPME), 2019 on August 28 and 29, 2019 in Lagos, in a bid to engage government and relevant key players to achieve the industry ambitious goal of accessing N300 billion expansion and intervention fund for the industry to upgrade and update technologically to become globally competitive, whilst ensuring medicine security and self-sufficiency.

The expo is expected to attract approximately 200 international pharma machineries exhibition companies from six countries and nearly 10,000 pharma and related sectors, trade professionals from across the region and approximately 150 Nigerian Exhibitors.

The focused industry on the event include, Pharma Manufacturing Industryl, Allied Industries (Biotech, Nutraceuticals, cosmetics, beverages, food and distillers, Packaging Machineries, API- Lab Reagents and Equipment’s Utility Products and Services.

THISDAY learnt that the NPME traditionally showcases a wide range of equipment and inputs which cover the entire pharma manufacturing industry, including allied industries such as Biotech, Nutraceuticals, Cosmetics, Beverages, Food and Distilleries.

Speaking on the programme, the Executive Secretary, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN), Frank Muonemeh, said there will be synchronisation among the regulators, policy makers and the business world, adding that It would be an opportunity to exhibit and explore the untapped business potential of central and West African Pharma Markets.

He said the PMG-MAN was poised to answer the clarion call to ensure medicine security In Nigeria by being self-sufficient in provision of essential medicine for our people at most affordable price, as well as making Nigeria a continental pharma manufacturing hub and not a pharma manufacturing dump.

The executive secretary while explaining that its organising partner, GPE has attained international recognition by organising highly successful exhibitions in various countries, said the theme of this year’s exhibition is “Strategic Collaboration for Medicine Security, Affordability and National Sufficiency’ has been carefully chosen to speak to the challenges of access to Medicine.

Speaking on the focal points and highlights, he said special buyers -seller sessions that will bring together over 500 pharma and allied products manufacturing companies in close business discussions to generate an active business relationship.

He said technical symposia will highlight discussions on most recent cutting-edge technologies and practices.

He said, “With its focus on Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), the production of high quality and affordable medicines remain the key objective of the group. Job creation and the development of local contextual capacity in various relevant areas is another major focal point for companies that manufacture medicines and allied products locally. The Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Sector of Nigeria also contributes to nation-building and economic development with aggregate investments in excess of N300 billion.

Africa is the last frontier for pharma manufacturing Investment, with the population boom, increased disease burden, we should answer the clarion call to make Africa and of course Nigeria a pharma manufacturing hub to cater for the health of our people and reverse the trend of 70 per cent; 30 per cent that contributes in making Nigeria a pharma manufacturing dump.

“With the fifth edition of Pharma Expo2019, we can look forward to engaging government to achieve the industry’s ambitious goal of accessing N300billion Expansion and Intervention fund for the industry to upgrade and update technologically to become globally competitive, whilst ensuring Medicine security and self-sufficiency.”

Speaking on the exhibition, the Chairman, NPME 2019 Expo Committee, Dr. Fidelis Ayebae, said the exhibition will be a more matured event to businesses not only within Nigeria, also across the entire West African pharma markets, adding that the NPME would be an event to update and upgrade the pharma manufacturing technologies on bases.

While noting that a wide range and variety of products services will be exhibited to update the information and the knowledge, which includes, Pharma Processing and Packaging Machineries and Materials, Laboratory Supplies, API & Bulk Drugs, Biotechnology, Research Institutions, Utilities, and related services, he said more than 120 companies from China, India, UAE, USA, and Nigeria have already confirmed their participation.

He added that this year, delegates are expected from across the continent, including Nigeria, Ghana, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Benin.

Also speaking on the event, a marketer, Samson Ayomide, said the event will be an opportunity to meet turnkey consultants, providers of factory GMP upgrades, AHU installation, packaging material suppliers and solution providers.

Ayomide said participants will acquire insights into latest industry trends in quality control and assurance, discover new and modern trends in pharma manufacturing and packaging innovation.