The decline in the value of the Naira results in a surge in drug imports, reaching N900bn

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In 2024, high drug prices are anticipated to persist, reaching over N900bn due to the depreciation of the naira, placing additional strain on Nigerians who already faced challenges with elevated drug costs in 2023.

According to data from the International Trade Center, Nigeria’s pharmaceutical imports in 2022 amounted to $1.05bn, costing N475.17bn at the exchange rate of that time.

With the current exchange rate as of February 19, 2024 (N902.45/$), the cost is projected to rise to N950.81bn.

The multilateral agency relies on data from the National Bureau of Statistics and the United Nations COMTRADE, and due to the unavailability of 2023 foreign trade records, 2022’s data is utilized.

Pharmaceutical products encompass various items, including dried glands, organ extracts, heparin, medicaments, wadding, and more.

Nigeria predominantly imports pharmaceutical products from countries such as India, China, Malaysia, Netherlands, and Belgium.

Since 2019, pharmaceutical imports have consistently exceeded $1bn annually, with projections indicating a further increase in 2024, attributed to foreign drug companies focusing on importation.

Notably, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Nigeria Plc and Sanofi announced plans to shift to a third-party distribution model, leading to a drastic surge in drug prices exceeding 100%.

Experts, including a pharmaceutical professor and industry professionals, highlight the vulnerability of Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industry to foreign exchange volatility.

Sesan Kareem, CEO of HunPharm Africa, emphasizes the impact of fluctuating exchange rates on medicine prices, pointing out that the scarcity of foreign exchange hampers the stability of material prices.

Concerns have been raised by political figures, medical associations, and President Bola Tinubu, who endorsed resolutions to address the rising cost of pharmaceuticals, including sector regulation.

 

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