Pharmacists Demand Removal of High Tariff on Drugs

Pharmacists Demand Removal of High Tariff on Drugs

 Pharmacists, under the auspices of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) Lagos Branch, have called on the federal government to grant more tax holidays to the sector as well as remove the high tariffs introduced in the last few years to reduce the high cost of drugs in the country.

Speaking at the 2024 Annual General Meeting of the PSN, Lagos, recently, the Chairman, Babayemi Oyekunle, said Nigerian consumers were suffering from the consequences of the excessive tariff, pleading with the federal government for a review as well as grant tax holiday to the pharma sector.

He identified weak regulatory control by appropriate regulatory agencies due to poor funding as one of the major factors responsible for the prevailing situation.

“Government needs to grant more tax holidays as well as remove some high tariffs introduced in the last few years in the pharma sector as these costs are passed to consumers.

“This is particularly instructive with regards to NAFDAC where high cost of registration of drug products and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) inspection fees need to be redressed. The industry is having issues with payment as the NAPAMS generated tariff is more than the CBN rate when calculated with the dollar fees on NAFDAC tariff.”

Oyekunle cited some of the fees charged by NAFDAC for its service as exorbitant and need to be redressed. 

“For example, the TCA fee for NAFDAC is $672.95 and conversion to Naira using the current CBN rate of N1,593.91 to USD brings the total payment to NAFDAC to N1,072,621.73. The online NAFDAC portal is N1, 101,061.25. However, on bank portals, the exchange rate ranges from N1, 520 to N1,530 to a dollar; therefore, NAFDAC fee to industry is actually $ 724.38 USD instead of the gazetted fee of $672.95. Who pays the difference? Nigerian patients.’’

Continuing, he said, “GMP inspection for factories overseas is USD11,000.00 for the first importer from that overseas manufacturing facility. Subsequently, pharma importers who import from that facility pay half of the above. Should there be a manufacturing outfit overseas that has twenty Nigerian companies doing business with them; the first company pays the first USD11, 000.00 while the other nineteen pay $5,500 x 19. This is a clear example of how NAFDAC, as a regulatory agency, has turned itself into a revenue-generating agency at the detriment of consumers of health in Nigeria because the original concept of the GMP inspection fee was for the overseas manufacturer to pay the equivalent of $10,000 in a five-year period. Presently, NAFDAC generates a whopping $50,000 to $100,000 from these overseas manufacturers.”

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