Ties with global firms seen unlocking Nigeria’s pharma opportunities

Ties with global firms seen unlocking Nigeria’s pharma opportunities

Prospects of Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industry in attaining self-sufficiency could be realised if local producers build strong and productive synergy with leading global producers looking to expand frontiers, experts have said.

They say the increased demand for affordable medicines that has followed the rise in global demand for good health care is encouraging global and regional companies to join forces with local business partners to help navigate new markets, especially in Africa.

Opportunities lie in these quests for local companies with idle capacities estimated to have a $4 billion growth potential that key stakeholders say can be unlocked through contract manufacturing.

According to the Nigerian Representative of Overseas Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (NIROPHARM) sector analysis, African markets are diverse in consumer choices, pricing, manufacturing, and distribution. There has been a significant increase in the number of these partnerships in manufacturing, contract manufacturing, and distribution over the last 10 years. These partnerships also manage the complex regulatory landscape for global partners.

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“Those interested in owning a factory must see the current importers as potential partners and they must be able to demonstrate capacities, that their factories that can manufacture in volumes, produce the desired quality in a transparent way that is verifiable by both parties,” Sammy Ogunjinmi, vice president, NIROPHARM, said.

The group also proposes that the country can stop poor capacity utilisation and address the wide margin between drug demands and supply from within, by ensuring manufacturing facilities are adequately equipped to meet global standards for general manufacturing practice (GMP).

Already, there seems to be a clear indication of the growing investment in higher quality drug manufacturing in Nigeria. Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Group, a sub-group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN), in 2015 announced that four Nigerian drug manufacturers had met the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) requirements for good manufacturing practice.

In 2018, Mckinsey, an international consulting firm, reported that there were only six companies in sub-Saharan region with WHO pre-qualification, indicating more qualified capacities could bring fortune to the local industry.

Also, NIROPHARM believes more can be tapped from regional trade integration across Africa. For instance, the recent movement for freer trade across Africa encapsulated in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which plans to integrate trade across the 55 members of the African Union, is one solution.

In 2018, representatives of over 40 out of 55 member countries of the African Union (AU) signed the AfCFTA agreement, with plans to remove tariff barriers to trade, among member states.

“Contract manufacturing will significantly improve manufacturing capacity utilisation, improved technology transfer, which will deliver lower operating costs and encourage pharmaceutical exports from Nigeria,” the body said in its position paper seen by BusinessDay.

“All of the above factors support the case for a strategic contract manufacturing plan for Nigeria,” it said.