By Haruna Gimba
The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) said the prices of essential medicines in the country, such as anti-malarial drugs and antibiotics have risen by over 150 per cent in less than two years.
According to the PSN, the implementation of a 20 per cent duty on imported medicines and the sourcing of drugs at a very high exchange rate of N500 to $1 have taken the average shelf price of an Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) medicine from N700 in 2015 to N1, 600 now with a propensity to hit N2, 000 before the end of
ACT is the drug of choice recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the treatment of malaria.
On the implication, President of PSN, Pharmacist Ahmed Yakasai, said; “It is obvious that what this policy will do is to increase mortality rate in the ranks of consumers of health services” because the drugs will become unaffordable to the average Nigerians.
In a letter to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, Pharmacist Yakassai said it was the same scenario with anti-infective drugs, particularly antibiotics, which are common drugs of choice in the country’s health system.
The PSN President noted that the current National Drug Policy (NDP) 2005 has as its thrust a vision to make safe, efficacious and affordable medicines available to all Nigerians, but this new 20 percent import duty frustrates the policy because drugs sourced at N500 to $1 and which have another 20 per cent import duty cannot be affordable.
According to the PSN president, the other dimension is that once genuine medicines are not affordable, merchants of death will now increase the production of fake drugs. Once the medicine market is flooded with fake drugs, the other dimension of the NDP to have safe and efficacious drugs would have been compromised.