Home News Pharmaceutical Products: Stakeholders express mixed reactions to executive order

Pharmaceutical Products: Stakeholders express mixed reactions to executive order

by Haruna Gimba
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By Iyemah David

The recent Executive Order signed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, aimed at boosting local production of healthcare products, has elicited a range of responses from industry stakeholders.

While many applaud the initiative for its potential to reduce production costs and enhance the competitiveness of local manufacturers, others voice concerns about the implementation and long-term impact on the pharmaceutical industry.

The order, which eliminates tariffs, excise duties, and VAT on specified machinery, equipment, and raw materials, is seen as a pivotal move towards fostering medical industrialization in Nigeria.

Coordinator of the Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), Dr Aminu Magashi Garba said that this could be good for the pharmaceutical manufacturing industries in the country.

Dr Magashi stated, “This is a great opportunity for the country’s local pharmaceuticals and manufacturers. It will be good for Nigerians to monitor implementation over the next year before saying it has no prospect.”

Speaking in Abuja, Dr Ezekiel Gube Ibrahim, Head of Quality Assurance at Innovative Biotech LTD, commented on the Executive Order, stating, “It’s a good development if the regulatory agencies perform their duties diligently.

“I know many Nigerians will want to take advantage of this tariff-free opportunity, and there’s a risk that some might import substandard pharmaceutical drugs and raw materials, especially from countries like China and Pakistan, which are known for producing substandard products.

“It’s crucial that our regulatory agencies step up and prevent fake products from flooding the market by ensuring strict enforcement of standards.”

Dr Ibrahim continued, “For us at Innovative Biotech, this is an excellent opportunity to redefine the health system in Nigeria by producing and delivering quality pharmaceutical products through practices that meet World Health Organization standards.

“We are well known for our commitment to quality, and this initiative opens the market for us to start production here in Nigeria. Let’s work as a team to capture the Nigerian market and beyond.”

Dr Gabriel Adakole, a public health expert, questioned the status of Biovaccines Nigeria Limited (BVNL), a joint venture between the Federal Government of Nigeria and May & Baker Nigeria Plc, which was set to commence vaccine production before the second quarter of 2023.

Adakole remarked, “The FEC approved the first part of the MoU of Biovaccines on Sept. 14, 2022, with the Federal Ministry of Health for the supply of routine immunisation vaccines. However, Nigeria is still facing a serious shortage of vaccines, as seen in the ongoing cholera outbreak in the country.

“Nigerians need to know what has happened so far with this arrangement because it’s also pharmaceutical products. We must stop wandering aimlessly in a state of backwardness and focus on making tangible progress. It’s time to embrace innovative solutions and drive forward with a clear vision for the future.”

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, praised President Tinubu’s Executive Order, which aims to revitalise Nigeria’s health sector by boosting local production of healthcare products.

“This transformative order removes tariffs, excise duties, and VAT on essential machinery, equipment, and raw materials, significantly reducing production costs and enhancing local manufacturers’ competitiveness.

“It also establishes market-shaping mechanisms to support local manufacturers and mandates collaboration between key ministries to streamline regulatory processes and reduce bottlenecks.

“Agencies like the Nigeria Customs Service, NAFDAC, and others will ensure swift implementation, with special waivers effective for two years.

“The order represents a strategic shift towards market-based incentives, fostering medical industrialisation, reducing costs through import substitution, retaining economic value, and creating jobs in the healthcare value chain,” Pate said.

The minister thanked the President for his commitment to Nigeria’s prosperity and acknowledged the contributions of all involved in this significant initiative.

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