While the World Health Organisation (WHO), Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria, and other international agencies spend over 20billion dollars annually in procuring drugs for malaria, TB and AIDS intervention programmes in Nigeria from India and China, local drug manufacturers in the country are currently not in a position to participate in international tenders for medicines against the three pandemics. This is because no pharmaceutical firm in Nigeria is pre-qualified.
WHO pre-qualification is a prerequisite for any company that wants it and other international agencies to buy their drugs through bulk purchase for distribution for health intervention programmes across the globe.
Azubike Okwor, president, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), told BusinessDay in an interview that annually, life-saving medicines are purchased by or through international procurement agencies like UNICEF, UNFPA, UNITAID for health intervention programmes globally from pre-qualified pharmaceutical firms that meet international standards of quality, safety and efficacy, a situation that has deprived Nigeria from entering into international bidding process for pharmaceutical products, particularly from the WHO.
While Evans, SWIPHA, CHI Pharmaceuticals, May & Baker and Fidson Healthcare Pharmaceuticals are currently modifying their production processes with the intent of complying with WHO prequalification requirements, Okwor disclosed that in Africa, only South Africa, Morocco and Uganda have pre-qualified drug manufacturing companies and the right to sell pharmaceutical drugs to WHO and allied agencies.