Drugs: Minister tasks research institute on local production

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By Folasade Akpan

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Tunji Alausa, says with the capacity of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), the country’s pharmaceutical gap should be bridged.

He said this on Friday in Abuja when he made a working visit to the institute, adding that with NIPRD, the nation should not be battling counterfeit drugs.

Alausa said he was impressed with the institute, after seeing what it could develop and produce.

” The institute just needs more clinical trial to get its products to the public for the use and to unlock the value chain for people to begin to gain jobs.

“I am very impressed with the portfolio product and I have been working with the institute to see how we can quickly get some of these into clinical trials and then some of them into the market.

“ We have discussed how we can begin to restructure the process as well as help design modular pharmaceutical plants that will begin to also produce some of the generic drugs that I think that the counterfeits are being imported into the country.

“Once we start producing drugs that we have certified and we can regulate, those plants will make the business of importation of counterfeit drugs financially unattractive.

Alausa appealed to drug counterfeiters to stop the act, saying “there are lots of legitimate businesses that can be done in this country.

” We have a population of 220 million people and that’s a big market.

“People can do a lot of legal things instead of bringing counterfeit drugs into the country.”

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He, however, said “government has a responsibility to fight back through legislation and also do things to protect the pharmaceutical industry to protect the health of the people.”

On the issue of budgetary allocation to the institute, the minister said that the President is committed to funding healthcare delivery in the country.

According to him, the President is committed to not just increasing the budget for healthcare delivery, but to ensure that the budget is cash backed.

He added that going from 2024, government is determined to cash back almost the entirety of the budgeted amount.

“So, hopefully the budgetary allocation and cash release will get better and I’m going to be meeting with the Director-General again to see how we can get some research money from the Ministry of Health to support this institution.”

Alausa gave the institute a mandate to begin a postdoctoral fellowship with 100 fellows.

According to him, with experience, better and more training, the institute could be useful to the industry and the academic sector too.

“So, we will start that in 2024 and we are also expanding our research ecosystem, we are trying to bring more international funding and grant into our system to expand and that’s also going to build our capacity.”

Earlier, the institute’s Director-General, Dr Obi Adigwe, had updated the minister about the status of the institute.

He revealed that the institute had developed the second NIPRD Strategic Plan 2021-2025.

He said that the institute had also developed and commercialised NIPRISAN, a drug for sickle cell which later metamorphosed into NICLOVIX.

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Adigwe, however, said that the research and development activities of the institute were limited by various factors, especially funding, lack of working equipment and low morale of staff.

He appealed to the minister to help the institute reach its full capacity by ensuring that it got the needed support from the Federal Government and other partners. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Abdullahi Mohammed/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu

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