Pharmacist Sam Ohuabunwa is back in the news as the 20th President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) ready to improve local drug production in Nigeria in the next three years.
As a former Chief Executive of Pfizer, Nigeria and later, President of Neimeth Pharmaceuticals Limited, the former Chairman of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), Mazi Ohuabunwa has been through the rudder of the Pharmacy profession as he was also a former Chairman Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN).
Speaking about his 7-point agenda as the leader of the over 15,000 Nigerian Pharmacists, Ohuabunwa said, “In all sincerity, we cannot discuss Pharmacy without talking about drug production because that is foundational to our work. I am therefore ready to improve our local drug production.
“Since my background is industry, my team shall be working largely with the industry as well as with government to ensure local production improved tremendously”, said Ohuabunwa.
He pointed out that the nation has in place a National Health Policy and Drug Policy that state that local industry should produce at least 75% of essential medicines we use in the country, “however, currently we have gone from about 40% where we were previously to about 30% which is not in the best interest of our country. So, we are resolved to work with the industry and government to up the game and contribute to our local drug growth in the shortest possible time”, the PSN leader assured.
He pointed out that albeit importation is the cheapest business to do, the PSN would not fold its arms to allow that to continue saying, “This exposes our nation to large degree on national insecurity”.
Mazi Ohuabunwa admitted that there are indeed some excruciating factors challenging local production of drugs such as, power and infrastructure deficit, policy inconsistency, high cost of doing business due to government control over factors of production amongst others, but observed, “what is hurting the industry most, is, the difficulty of the country to realise that there is need for the industry to be treated slight differently from other sectors of the economy”.
“Nigeria for example accepted the ECOWAS common tariff which is applicable to every product without realizing that in the case of Pharmaceuticals, if you apply the same rules, it will cause complete closure of local plants. This is because if it is cheaper to import finished goods as they have made finished goods to attract zero tariff, while raw materials had tariffs, logically, a business man will go after finished goods”, he lamented.
Besides, government he lamented, sometimes preaches what it does not practice. As a rule, government leaders must buy and use made-in-Nigeria products and medicines to grow our industry, said Ohuabunwa.
He also pledges to facilitate the smooth take off of the National Drug Distribution Guideline to give the drug sector the needed peace that ensures the custodians of medicines have direct supervision over utilization of medicines in the country.
According to him, “My vision is that, we should be able to trace every tablet, every bottle of syrup, every capsule, every vile of injection that is administered to patients must be traced to the custodians, the Pharmacists, that is the ideal and the rule”
He argues that every Pharmacist must be accountable for the quality and safety of drugs getting to every patient in the country.
Ohuabunwa also pledged to unite the health team through promotion of equity and fair play, teamwork and proper remuneration of Pharmacists in the public and private sectors.
Perhaps more importantly to the first Pharmacist, is the immediate realization of the signing to law the Pharmacy Act by President Muhammadu Buhari “as this Law aims at strengthening all aspects of Pharmacy services in the country.
The welfare and professionalism of Young Pharmacists graduates are not left out as Ohuabunwa said, his team is initiating negotiations with both government and Pharmaceutical industry on how to evolve a central posting mechanism for all internship graduates.
At a ceremony to be chaired by former Secretary of Health, Sir Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi and with Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo as Special Guest, on Thursday, January 24 in Abuja, Mazi Ohuabunwa will be inaugurated as the President of the PSN alongside investiture of new fellows of the PSN.