The escalating cost of pharmaceutical drugs in Nigeria has forced many patients to resort to using counterfeit drugs, according to the National Chairman of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Ademola Oladigbolu.
In an exclusive interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, Oladigbolu attributed the surge in drug prices to various factors, including the departure of major pharmaceutical companies from Nigeria in 2023.
He also pointed to the government’s neglect of the local pharmaceutical industry, which relies heavily on importing active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) to produce drugs.
He said; “People are already dying. There is one drug used by epileptic patients and a pack of it is N65,000. That is a drug that someone who has epilepsy must take daily, non-stop. How much does such a person need to have to be able to maintain that?
“The way the government is investing in the refinery because petroleum cuts across everywhere is the same way they should encourage the production of pharmaceutical starch so that there will be encouragement for pharmaceutical production in Nigerian companies.”
Oladigbolu lamented the failure of the government to implement several policies and initiatives that were meant to improve healthcare delivery and pharmaceutical regulation in the country.
“A lack of continuity is a major problem in re-crafting the health sector in Nigeria. It is a very great problem. Many policies have been abandoned and some are just on the table without implementation,” he said.
He said that the ultimate solution to the high prices of drugs is the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), which would enable Nigerians to access affordable and quality healthcare services without paying out of pocket.
Oladigbolu urged the government to start the NHIS and ensure that everyone pays a token to enrol in the scheme.
“If the Federal Government starts that, all of us will not know what the drug prices are. If it is the Federal Government paying for those drugs, we will know the right thing to do, and they will do it because what is happening right now is that there are many things to be done, but we have not seen movement in that direction,” he said.