The only ingredient Nigerian pharmaceutical companies do not import is water, according to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.
However this is changing as the Muhammadu Buhari administration steps up investment in the sector, Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye said on Saturday during her appearance on Sunrise Saturday.
“That is changing as we speak,” she said. “There are two or three companies now that are going to be making some active pharmaceutical ingredients.
“There is another talk about making lactose. Lactose is one of the nonactive ingredients – we cannot even make it because we think importation is the best thing, but it is the worst thing that could have happened to us.”
Prof. Adeyeye said the coronavirus pandemic has transformed into a catalyst for investment into the nation’s health sector, after decades of neglect.
“I see a brighter future for Nigeria because COVID-19 woke up us from our comatose state as a country,” she said. “Before COVID-19, we had huge problems and COVID-19 kind of opened the Pandora box for us, because we were over-dependent.
“The health sector was neglected for decades. And what the Buhari administration is doing right now is phenomenal. Because it is something to know that neglect took place, it is another thing to start finding excuses.
“The current administration has now committed a lot of money to the health sector, from the primary health sector to the tertiary, to pharmaceutical companies, to researchers.”
The NAFDAC DG said the country’s top regulatory agency for food and drugs is now being audited by the World Health Organisation as it moves to standardise its regulatory process.
“The regulatory system was weak. And I use ‘was’, because NAFDAC is no longer what NAFDAC was three years ago,” she said. “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.
“If a regulatory system is weak, the pharmaceutical industry will be weak. So what we are doing now is to build internal capacity. And that you cannot see on the air. We are making sure we use quality management systems, going through WHO audit, which is a very tasking and arduous process and the best thing that can happen to NAFDAC.
“We have about 200 pharma companies in the country. About 165 are active. We went there one by one to gauge their good manufacturing practice compliance.”