President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the setting up of an inter-ministerial committee to fashion out how medicines and livestock drugs can be made available to the Nigerians at a fraction of the prevailing prices.
The president gave the directive when he received executive board members of a pharmaceutical company, Graham Foggs Ltd, at State House, Abuja, on Friday.
He reiterated his commitment to the improvement of the quality of lives of Nigerians and charged the Ministers of Health as well as Agriculture and Rural Development to work with the pharmaceutical company to "short-circuit disruptive bureaucracy, and brief me from time to time".
The representative of company, Mr Sam Nda-Isaiah, a pharmacist and newspaper publisher, said the company sought to make essential medicines and livestock drugs available to the public at significantly reduced prices.
He said: "It has been established that 70 per cent of Nigerians cannot afford modern medicines produced by multinational pharmaceutical companies due to their high prices.''
Nda-Isaiah added that most of the companies had been operating at less than 30 per cent of installed capacity "and it has been so for a very long time.
"The only break was during the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) days, when drug manufacturers were achieving 80 per cent of installed capacity.''
According to him, Graham Foggs Ltd plans to bring down the prices of most of the commonly used medicines by up to 60 per cent, producing only generic medicines as against patented ones.
"This would be achieved without a single kobo subsidy from government, with Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) or bulk raw materials imported from China and India for the approved local production companies in Nigeria," Nda-Isaiah said.
He noted that the finished products would be sold at fixed prices to achieve the objectives of the programme.
Nda-Isaiah expressed optimism that millions of jobs would be created across the country as pharmaceutical plants would be operating at near-maximum capacity.
"And this would be for medicines of all classes including livestock drugs to boost the agricultural sector. The price of every medicine, including those under the health insurance scheme, will come down,'' he said.
NAN recalls that Buhari had earlier in the life of this administration reduced tariff on pharmaceutical raw materials and increased the one for finished imported products.
This is to boost and encourage local production of medicines for the benefit of ordinary Nigerians.