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Pharmacists canvass duty waivers on imported raw materials

The Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN)   Monday called on the federal government to review the import duties on raw materials for the production of drugs in the country.

The body said  the lingering Currency Fluctuations and lack of Foreign Exchange had become a major problem to drug manufacturers in Nigeria.

It also urged President Mohammed Buhari  to appoint an experienced Pharmacist to head the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC to enable it discharge it’s functions creditably.

Expressing dismay that prices of drugs have gone up as a result of the currency issue, the body noted that if nothing was done urgently, it had capacity of unleashing hardship on the people before long.

Addressing journalists in Enugu, the National Chairman of the ACPN, Dr. Albert Alkali, disclosed that despite the efforts of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to rid the country of fake and adulterated drugs, the problem still persisted in the country and had remained a major challenge to health care providers.

Alkali who said the over 6000 Community Pharmacists from all the 36 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory were in Enugu for their 35th Annual National Conference with the theme “Manpower Development in Community Pharmacy Practice – Adopting Global Best Practices” noted that it had become imperative for government to declare emergency in foreign exchange before the problem spiralled out of hands.

“I think government needs to declare an emergency in that area of foreign exchange so that our people will not suffered unnecessarily. Government should do something by creating an enabling environment where we can start becoming self-sufficient in drug production. The pharmaceutical industry has potentials of developing lots of drugs if we have the enabling environment. If that can be done urgently, then we don’t need Forex but for now something should be done.

“We are specifically asking for waiver on the importation of raw materials for drug production. Once the raw materials are not properly priced it equally affects the finished product as prices will be so high. We expect government to work on that quickly,” Alkali noted.

On the issue of fake and adulterated drugs, the ACPN said te first step to getting things right is the appointment of of a thorough-bred professional for the NAFDAC, noting that the successes recorded under Prof Dora Akunyili were not sustained culminating in the return of the problem.

“Only a trained pharmacist will know that this drug can lead to kidney failure, brain damage, cardiovascular disease, cancer etc and therefore will do everything possible to stop fake and adulterated drugs from coming into the market. The late Akunyili as a professors of pharmacy executed her job with greater vigor because she understood the system. God has indeed been helping us. We hope this government will do the needful by putting the right person there to protect Nigerians against the menace of fake and counterfeit medicines, “ Alkali said.

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