By Abdullateef Aliyu
Lagos — The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) on Wednesday demanded an exchange rate of N200 to $1 as a measure to reduce prices of drugs especially anti-malarial drugs in the country.
PSN President, Ahmed Yakasai while briefing newsmen on the World Malaria Day disclosed that Nigeria loses N132billion annually from treatment and prevention of malaria while over 51million cases are recorded everyday.
He said in the past two years there has been a 60 percent increment in prices of drugs due to lack of access to foreign exchange.
Yakasai noted that the concessionary forex of N200 to $1 is achievable while also calling for “a reasonable tax regime”.
He said, “Government must encourage R & D and take-off of petrochemical industries to encourage local production of drugs. As long as the 95% of raw materials: Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API), excipients and packaging materials for drugs are imported, the prices of medicines will continue skyrocket”.
He called on importers and manufacturers to, in the spirit of world malaria day, review downward the prices of anti-malarial drugs, saying they should “realize that provision of antimalarial drugs should be seen as a social service which do not require high percentage markup”.
The President noted that the Federal Government has sought loan of $300million from World Bank, Islamic Development Bank and Africa Development Bank to fight malaria and reduce it by half.
He added that global funds would also spend $37million with half of it as counterpart fund from Nigerian government to procure treated mosquito nets.
He said, “Unfortunately we have to import mosquito nets from our neighbouring countries. This is a challenge to our manufacturers. Government will provide 15million mosquito nets and we have to import. We have been discussing with the Minister of Health to provide enabling environment for our manufacturers to produce mosquito nets locally so that it would be easily accessible and affordable for the common man”.