Poor Business Environment Affecting Local Pharma Industry, Says Nebe

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By Martins Ifijeh

Stakeholders in the pharmaceutical sector have expressed concern over the high cost of doing business in the country, revealing that the local pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria currently operates under a challenging business environment.

Lamenting the economic and financial impact of operating in a poor business environment, one of the stakeholders and Managing Director, Pharmatex Industries Limited, Prince Christopher Nebe, said the challenges confronting local drug manufacturers such as epileptic power supply and lack of access to low interest funding were not only limiting their facilities from operating at optimal capacity but were also killing the pharma industry.

Nebe, who decried lack of patronage for locally manufactured pharmaceutical products, said the pharma industry needs government support and intervention to survive.

Nebe spoke at the company’s head office in Lagos during a facility visit by health journalists under the aegis of Health Writers Association of Nigeria recently.

The Pharmatex boss noted with dismay that despite establishing a world-class pharmaceutical plant, which he described as the best in the country, the facility is currently producing at 30 per cent below capacity.

“Local manufacturers have not been giving any form of encouragement even by the government. There are no free interest rate facilities. People still prefer foreign goods to local products. So, the market is not there.

“Again, it is still expensive to manufacture drugs in Nigeria. There is no power supply. Even the roads are bad. We have a gas plant that independently generates power for our facilities and we spend not less than N12m a month on diesel. So, people are not encouraged to do business under such environment with poor infrastructure. That is why, we are begging the government to help us”, he said.

He further said: “Last year, we lost N30 million from our capital. Almost all the manufacturers in Nigeria are facing the same problem except those lucky to have their products picked up in the market.”

Nebe reminded the government that the cost of production would go down if power supply and credit facilities were made available to manufacturers.
According to him, Pharmatex is committed to producing quality drugs in line with international best practices, affirming that his company has the capacity and facilities to meet the essential medicine needs of the people.

“Our laboratory is the most standard in Nigeria and we have the equipment in the lab”, he added.

Nebe therefore, urged the Federal Government to create an enabling environment for local pharma industry to thrive and operate effectively in order to realise its full potentials.

He also enjoined the government to among other things, provide electricity, soft loans and ensure zero per cent tariff on imported raw materials to boost productivity.

Also speaking, Plant Manager of the industry, Mr. Ezekiel Ibidapo, said the company is seeking World Health Organisation pre-qualification for some of its products– Levofloxacin 500mg and Artemether /lumefantrine 80/4080mg tablets.

“Pharmatex Industries Limited is into manufacturing, marketing, distribution and importation of pharmaceutical products to provide quality and affordable medicines to Nigerians,” he noted.