Nigeria: Pharmacists lament hike in prices of drugs

The Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria says the increase is an effect of COVID-19 and the erratic exchange rate. Drugs previously sold for $10 now sell for roughly double the price

Pharmacists in Nigeria are lamenting the impact of COVID-19 on the pharmaceutical sector, saying the hike in prices of drugs is due to the pandemic.

The pharmacists say 65 per cent of pharmaceutical raw materials and finished products being used in Nigeria are imported from China and India.

The chairman of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria in Abuja and managing director of Zinni Pharmacy Ltd, Wuyep Nimnan Nankap, says the price increase is an effect of COVID-19 and the erratic exchange rate.

Drugs that previously sold for roughly $10 now sell for approximately $20, Nankap said.

“Actually, many reasons account for this,” he said. “The COVID is primary.

“Since the advent of the COVID, there are lots of drugs that you cannot access. And when you access them, our importers, or even our indigenous manufacturers, will tell you the cost of raw materials due to a ban on some things has affected them [when it comes to local production],” he said.

Great menace

Experts say the hike in drug prices may affect the delivery of quality health care as patients resort to alternatives on the market in response to an influx of cheap, counterfeit drugs.

According to the managing director of the Aloba Pharmacy, Aloba Olatunji, the government has to become involved in the fight against the problem, especially through action by the regulatory National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

“It is a menace we can’t really fight,” Olatunji said. “To overcome it, the security people in the country have to get involved to form alliance with [the regulators] because some pharmacies in Nigeria are not being managed by real pharmacists.

“Two or three months ago, we had a case that I reported to NAFDAC on the issue of capsulating pins,” said Nankap. “We are talking about fake or expired, or counterfeiting.

“You can see the level at which it is going and many more like that, and the rebound will be a terrible situation on counterfeiting.”

He argued that the government is neglecting the pharmaceutical industry, and said that attention must be given to the sector to improve the quality of service it provides Nigerians.

The vast bulk of materials that Nigeria uses to produce drugs is imported from China, India or Europe. As such, the pharmaceuticals market in Nigeria depends largely on foreign exchange.

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