The National Chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, Samuel Adekola, said the instability in the foreign exchange market had affected the prices of drugs.
Pharmacists have lamented on the increase in drug prices, COVID-19 has impacted the pharmaceutical industry, saying the hike in drug prices was an effect of the pandemic.
“The increase in the prices of drugs in the country is not farfetched, we are responding to the national and international economy. Over 70 percent of what we use in producing drugs are imported from China, India, and Europe.
“The drug market in Nigeria depends solely on foreign exchange, based on this there is bound to be an increment in the prices of drugs in the country.
“At a time, there were drugs that you won’t see in the Nigerian market, particularly those from Europe. The prices of some of these medicines went from N350 to N1,500, and that is if you can find them. This is the direct effect of COVID-19,” Adekola said.
The chairman, Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Distributors Association of Nigeria, Pharm. Ernest Okafor said the hike in prices of drugs may affect the delivery of quality health care to the people if the government fails to intervene.
“It is obvious that the pandemic has resulted in a lot of imports being dropped. Importation has been reduced and supply chain management has been disrupted all over the world because of the pandemic. That could be the reason for the increase in the prices of drugs in the country.”
The government must realize that drug security is as important as food security. When you are ill, you have no choice, so, the government must take seriously the issue of drug security.
According to a pharmacist, Jonah Okotie, said, aside from inflation and COVID-19, the lockdowns and restrictions placed on the export of some very essential pharmaceuticals products by India and China led to a big deficit in the supply of these products.
He also added that “We do not have the capabilities and capacity to produce active pharmaceutical ingredients in Nigeria. Secondly, our drug distribution system is not only chaotic but defective. Hence, the distribution ends up in the hands of businessmen, who care only about profit, and not professionals.
“Furthermore, our poor electricity supply does not support some techniques and processes required in the production line to manufacture of these essential products,”.