Challenges and Prospects of Pharmaceutical Industries in Nigeria
The pharma industry traces its root from two sources; the first of these were local apothecaries that expanded from their traditional role of distributing botanical drugs such as quinine and morphine to wholesale manufacture in the mid 19th century. The function of the industry is to research, develop, produce and market drugs or pharmaceuticals for use as medications. Its aim is to produce safe and effective medicines with cost efficiency and productivity to the manufacturer. The potential for national or local production of quality assured, low-cost pharmaceuticals to meet national needs is an issue that has been debated and discussed for several decades. The justifications or challenges that initiated the need for local production of pharmaceuticals include;
- The problem of lack of ready accessibility to available pharmaceuticals
- High prices for imported pharmaceuticals
- Poor quality of some pharmaceuticals
These challenges have prompted public and political interests in considering local production of pharmaceuticals with the aim to
- Promote self-sufficiency
- Achieve independence from international suppliers
- Develop local industrial capacity
- Produce foreign exchange through exportation of domestically manufactured medicines and
- Create new jobs.
Until the middle of the 20th century, most developing countries like Nigeria only imported finished pharmaceutical dosage forms such as suspensions, syrups, tablets, creams, ointments, suppositories, powders, capsules, and parenteral preparations all of which were imported by either multinational drug companies, government or some wealthy indigenous private entrepreneurs. Serious attention was not paid to the local production of raw materials, dosage forms or processing equipment. However, in recent times, the trend has changed and these are beginning to gain more attention especially the local production of dosage forms and some processing equipment.
Although a large proportion of dosage forms are still being imported or purported to be imported from industrially developed countries like India, China, USA, Europe, Parkistan, Taiwan, Brazil etc., government has also tried to encourage indigenous investors to move away from the sole importation of finished goods to the manufacture of simple products. This is an indication that serious effort still needs to be made in order for Nigeria to meet the drug and health needs of her citizens.