Mojisola Adeyeye, director-general of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), says the only thing pharmaceutical companies do not import is water.
Speaking when she appeared as a guest on Sunrise Daily, a programme on Channels Television, Adeyeye said there is need for more efforts on local production.
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She highlighted the effects of importation and how it has affected the availability of medical supplies in the country in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were over-dependent. The only thing that the pharmaceutical companies do not import is water. The ingredients are not there and you cannot manufacture ingredients, whether active or non-active in the country without support from the government. That is part of what the government is doing,” she said.
“You cannot set up active pharmaceutical industries without training the personnel; without having solid science foundation.
“That is changing now. There are two or three companies now that are going to be making some pharmaceutical ingredients. We think importation is the best thing, but it is the worst thing that could have happened to us.”
Adeyeye maintained that the Buhari administration is committing resources to address the situation, but called on other stakeholders to focus efforts on improving capacity, even within tertiary institutions.
“I actually see a brighter future for Nigeria because COVID-19 woke us up from our comatose state as a country. The health sector was neglected for decades and what the Buhari administration is doing right now is phenomenal. It is something to know that a neglect took place; it is another thing to start finding excuses,” the NAFDAC boss said.
“The current administration has now committed a lot of money towards the health sector — from the primary health to the tertiary, to pharmaceutical companies, to researchers.
“Before COVID-19, we had huge problems and COVID-19 kind of opened the Pandora’s box for us because we were over-dependent. From the universities, the university system is weak to produce graduates that cannot really strengthen the pharmaceutical industry. The regulatory system was weak and I use ‘was’ because NAFDAC is no longer what NAFDAC was three years ago. I knew a lot about regulatory science before I joined NAFDAC and there were things that were done wrong.
“But we cannot live in the past. It is what are we doing right now. If a regulatory system is weak, the pharmaceutical industry will be weak. So, what we are doing now is building internal capacity and that we cannot see on the air.
“What I mean by internal capacity is making sure we use quality management system and right now as we speak, we’re going through WHO audit which is a very tasking and arduous process and it is the best thing that could happen to NAFDAC.”