As Nigerians, especially the poor, continue to lament the continuous increase in prices of commodities in the country, LEADERSHIP Sunday checks have revealed that the prices of drugs are also increasing.
Pharmacists have however attributed the increase to high exchange rate and high cost of production.
In an exclusive interview, the chairman, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) FCT chapter, Pharm Kilani Jelili, told our correspondent that the increase in prices was a function of the exchange rate and since most of the drugs used in Nigeria are imported, their prices would naturally be determined by the exchange rate.
He said this would also affect locally produced drugs indirectly because even as they are produced locally, the raw materials are imported, with the attendant increased cost of production.
LEADERSHIP Sunday findings also revealed that some drugs are becoming scarce, just as they are now more expensive.
On this, Pharm Jelili, who is also the head, Department of Pharmacy, National Hospital, Abuja, said, “Drugs are not scarce; it is just that they are costly.”
Also, the Head of Department, Pharmaceutical Technology and Raw Materials Development, National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Professor Martins Emeje, told our correspondent that because Nigeria depends on importation, the prices of its health commodities would depend on the exchange rate.
He said, “Since we don’t import with naira, the prices will change. If you import something at one dollar today and tomorrow at two dollars, will the price be the same? That is the problem.
“We are even lucky that we still have some drugs in the market. COVID-19 has made countries look inward. Those countries producing their own drugs know that their countries are more important than people of other countries.
“So countries like Nigeria that are not serious with local production and want to remain perpetually under slavery to be importing drugs from other countries will suffer”.
Prof Emeje lamented that Nigerians do not have a deliberate national agenda for local drug production, describing it as shameful.
On the N100billion Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) loan aimed at enhancing local drug production, Emeje said the bank came up with the initiative because of COVID-19.
According to him, the effects of what the CBN has started will not yield result until the next five to 10 years, and if they don’t do it continually, it will be useless.
He therefore recommended that the CBN must continue to do it every year.