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Senate probes alleged N30bn FG owes local pharmaceutical firms

Senate probes alleged N30bn FG owes local pharmaceutical firms

Senate probes alleged N30bn FG owes local pharmaceutical firms image
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The Senate has commenced an investigation into an allegation by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Group that the Federal Government owes it over N30bn, being the value of the drugs procured for use at federal health institutions.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Dr Ibrahim Oloriegbe, stated this on Thursday at an investigative hearing on the petition from the syringe and needles manufacturers, who complained about the lack of patronage from government.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who was summoned by the Senate panel on the issue, however, said his ministry would soon come up with a policy that would stop the procurement and use of imported syringes and needles in all Federal Government-owned health institutions in the country.

He said teaching hospitals and federal medical centres would be mandated to procure and use only syringes and needles manufactured in Nigeria.

Ehanire also told the panel that his ministry would ensure that the Federal Executive Council approves the policy within the next six weeks.

He added that it would also be an offence for any federal health institution in the country to administer vaccines procured by the Federal Government with foreign syringes and needles with the implementation of the policy.

The Director-General of the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, who was also summoned by the panel, however, urged the Senate to ensure that the money being owed pharmaceutical industries by the government were paid. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Adeyeye said, “Part of our problems is that the government is not patronising our local pharmaceutical companies enough. The same thing that syringe and needles manufacturers are complaining about is the same complaint by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Group.

“When the government patronises them, their monies are not being paid. The government currently owes the pharmaceutical manufacturers billions of naira. How can they recoup their investments when they are not paid?

“I don’t know whether legislation could be made to make the government pay them upfront so that they will not run out of business.”

Oloriegbe assured the pharmaceutical manufacturers that the situation would change at the end of the Senate probe of the petition before it.

He said, “We have a petition before our committee written by the pharmaceutical manufacturers that the Federal Government owes them over N30bn and we are investigating it already.

“There will be a great improvement after our investigation because we are going to look at the evidence they submitted. It is more of an administrative issue.

“A situation whereby when there is a change in leadership, the new person would not want to pay the debt incurred by his or her predecessor.

“Instead of them to embrace the tradition of continuity, they would refuse to pay or when there is pressure, they will agree to pay in bits.”

Meanwhile, the President, Medical Device Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Akin Oyediran, said his members had installed capacities that could produce the quality and quantities of syringes and needles needed in Nigeria in their various factories.

He said, “The syringes needed in Nigeria are between two billion and 2.5 billion annually. All seven local manufacturers have the capacity to produce 1. 95 billion a year.

“If we have the support of the government, especially the implementation of the Backward Integration Policy, they will scale up and would be able to produce all the demands in a matter of months. The quality is world-class. The quality is not questionable.”

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