Executive order to regulate drug costs coming soon, says Pate

Minister of Health Ali Pate has stated that the Federal Government will issue an executive order to manage pharmaceutical pricing and reduce the cost of vital pharmaceuticals in Nigeria.

Pate spoke with State House reporters on Wednesday following the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

He clarified that the executive order seeks to ensure fair pricing for necessary medications while fostering the growth of regional pharma makers.

The minister said the decision follows the exit of major multinational pharmaceutical companies from Nigeria, thereby, reducing competition.

The prices of antibiotics increased by nearly 500% across Nigeria between 2019 and 2023, according to research from SBM Intelligence in December 2023.

The group which said it gathered data Between 2019 and 2023, on the prices of medicines across four broad categories of Antimalarial, Antibiotics, Painkillers and Common Cold medicines, said Multiple factors have driven the increases including higher commodity prices and the weakness of the naira.

“Consistent with the president’s renewed hope agenda, which puts the human capital, health and social welfare of Nigerians at the center, today at the federal executive council, Mr. President took three far-reaching decisions relating to the health sector,” he said.

“The first is on the rising cost of pharmaceuticals, the hike in prices that we have in the pharmaceutical which is going beyond the reach of many Nigerians, life-saving commodities, devices like syringes and needles and the exit of major companies from our market.

“Those decisions also include the regulation of the sector to protect the health and well being of humans and the third decision is regarding how we deal with the crisis of human resources in the health sector.

“Mr president, in his wisdom, at the end of last year, in October, approved an initiative to unlock the healthcare value-chain and appointed a coordinator for that.

“But we know that the price of pharmaceuticals have escalated and many entities have decided to withdraw and some of the local manufacturers in Nigeria are struggling.

“President’s intent is that we begin to take steps to enable the local manufacturers to survive, to thrive and to deliver the basic commodities that are key to saving their lives.

“And he directed that the attorney general of the federation work with us to come up with an executive order, which is the mechanism through which he will act, given the concern that he has that many Nigerians are suffering from the costs of pharmaceuticals, as well as other devices. That is the first important step and that should be coming very soon.”

“The third is regarding the acute human resource shortage that we have,” he said.

“We know and having gone around many of our hospitals, particularly federal tertiary hospitals, the replacement of health workers that leave oftentimes takes a very long time because waiver process takes several stages.

“That will hasten the recruitment of health workers in terms of those who are out there unemployed, within limits of their fiscal resources.”

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