CBN Amends Healthcare Sector Intervention Scheme

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* Medical devices developers now eligible for grant

By James Emejo

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has amended the guidelines for the operation of the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme (HSRDIS), earlier introduced in May to help strengthen the public healthcare system with innovative financing of research and development as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The amended HSRDIS framework, which was released yesterday, included one nominee from the National Biotechnological Development Agency (NABDA) in the composition of the Body of Experts (BoEs), which is responsible for the review and evaluation of submitted research proposals as well as recommendation on financing the research and development projects.

The amendment further included medical devices as research intervention, which is eligible for the scheme.

The new guidelines further stated that going forward, candidate vaccines undergoing “late preclinical and early” clinical testing or trials shall be eligible for consideration under the scheme if considered to have high potentials to cross the clinical trial stage and prospects of scale by the BoEs.

The updated regulation also stipulated that inventions arising from HSRDIS financed research and development projects must be reported to the CBN that funded the grants.

The document stated that individual researchers and pharmaceutical manufacturers are to retain substantial (80 per cent) ownership of the drugs, medical devices, herbal medicines and vaccines made under HSRDIS funded research.

In addition, inventors are expected to file for patent protection and to ensure commercialisation upon licensing for the benefit of public health.

Specifically, the HSRDIS is designed to trigger intense national R&D activities to develop a Nigerian vaccine, drugs and herbal medicines against the spread of COVID-19 and any other communicable or non-communicable diseases through the provision of grants to biotechnological and pharmaceutical companies, institutions, researchers, and

research institutes for the research and development of drugs, herbal medicines and vaccines for the control, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.

The scheme seeks to is to boost domestic manufacturing of critical drugs and vaccines to ensure their sustainable domestic supply and reduce the bulk manufacturing costs of the drugs, herbal medicines and vaccines in the country.

The CBN explained that funding for the scheme shall be derived from the Developmental Component of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund (MSMEDF).

The grant limit includes a maximum of N50 billion for research activities and maximum of N500 million for development/manufacturing activities, while disbursement under the scheme shall be made to beneficiaries in tranches subject to approved milestones achieved.

The research activities should not be more than two years from the date of release of fund while development/manufacturing activities is given not more than one year from the date of release of fund.