We can meet pharmaceutical needs, reduce imports – PMAG

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Local pharmaceutical manufacturers are pushing for the imposition of restrictions on the importation of basic drugs that are being produced in the country, as a means to protect and promote the local industry to thrive and push the president’s vision of making Ghana a pharmaceutical hub.

According to the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana (PMAG), the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the promise by the Minister of Finance Ken Ofori Atta in the Mid-Year Budget Review to give more attention to locally produced goods puts their demand into proper context.

Currently, 34 companies produce various forms of pharmaceutical products and drugs in the country. These producers have stressed their capacity is being underutilised after millions of dollars were invested into their operations.

Executive Secretary of PMAG, Lucia Addae, speaking at the 2020 Ghana Pharma Summit 2020 on the theme ‘COVID-19: The capacity of the pharma industry, what lies ahead’, said most pharmaceutical companies in the country are underutilised despite the heavy investments.

“You have companies that are running one shift but can run two or three shifts; you have companies that are doing certain products and can do more, but they are not doing it because those products are being imported – and sometimes they come at cheaper prices due the many incentives available to them outside.

“What we are saying is that if there is the demand, if there is a buyer – whether government of private – we are saying that this market is available. The businesses would ensure that they meet that demand by investing to make sure their people and all other needed material is there for production.

“Currently, manufacturing machines are working between 8am to 3pm and it is because that is the demand you have. But in the event you have a demand for three times your current supply, you would be able to triple up your shift and increase your machines to meet the demand.”

Policy required to secure gains

She added that their request can be achieved if a definite policy is drafted for all stakeholders. “Currently, we have the capacity but it is being underutilised. We have the capacity to serve the pharmaceutical needs of the nation. We can manufacture up to 70 percent of what we need. We are currently doing 30 percent and we can do better.

“We just need those strong policies to say that we will not allow these things to come into the country anymore; we will support the companies and pay them on time. These are the things we need well outlined and clear for every stakeholder to strictly abide with; once we do that, the pharma industry will move steps ahead.”

She believes the nation stands to benefit greatly if it prioritises the sector, as about US$5billion would be channeled into the economy from exports to the sub-region and the continent. For her, the opportunity and gains for the country are endless – but it needs to start with strong will from government.

Speaking during the panel session at the event, the President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, Ben Botwe, advocated more attention for the sector as it has huge potential. For him, successive governments have said great things about the sector, but exhibited little action to propel its growth.

“There should be a conscious national effort. We must give the pharmaceutical sector a national priority. Some countries have done it and I have cited the India example; if we identify that pharma is a priority then what ever it takes to get in there, we should be able to do it so that we can manufacture for ourselves and also for export. When COVID came, we had the leadership to lead and look for resources to fight it. Now pharma has become critical, and we need to give it a lot more priority,” Mr. Botwe intimated.

FIN

 

 

By Osei Owusu AMANKWAAH

Local pharmaceutical manufacturers are pushing for the imposition of restrictions on the importation of basic drugs that are being produced in the country, as a means to protect and promote the local industry to thrive and push the president’s vision of making Ghana a pharmaceutical hub.

According to the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana (PMAG), the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the promise by the Minister of Finance Ken Ofori Atta in the Mid-Year Budget Review to give more attention to locally produced goods puts their demand into proper context.

Currently, 34 companies produce various forms of pharmaceutical products and drugs in the country. These producers have stressed their capacity is being underutilised after millions of dollars were invested into their operations.

Executive Secretary of PMAG, Lucia Addae, speaking at the 2020 Ghana Pharma Summit 2020 on the theme ‘COVID-19: The capacity of the pharma industry, what lies ahead’, said most pharmaceutical companies in the country are underutilised despite the heavy investments.

“You have companies that are running one shift but can run two or three shifts; you have companies that are doing certain products and can do more, but they are not doing it because those products are being imported – and sometimes they come at cheaper prices due the many incentives available to them outside.

“What we are saying is that if there is the demand, if there is a buyer – whether government of private – we are saying that this market is available. The businesses would ensure that they meet that demand by investing to make sure their people and all other needed material is there for production.

“Currently, manufacturing machines are working between 8am to 3pm and it is because that is the demand you have. But in the event you have a demand for three times your current supply, you would be able to triple up your shift and increase your machines to meet the demand.”

Policy required to secure gains

She added that their request can be achieved if a definite policy is drafted for all stakeholders. “Currently, we have the capacity but it is being underutilised. We have the capacity to serve the pharmaceutical needs of the nation. We can manufacture up to 70 percent of what we need. We are currently doing 30 percent and we can do better.

“We just need those strong policies to say that we will not allow these things to come into the country anymore; we will support the companies and pay them on time. These are the things we need well outlined and clear for every stakeholder to strictly abide with; once we do that, the pharma industry will move steps ahead.”

She believes the nation stands to benefit greatly if it prioritises the sector, as about US$5billion would be channeled into the economy from exports to the sub-region and the continent. For her, the opportunity and gains for the country are endless – but it needs to start with strong will from government.

Speaking during the panel session at the event, the President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, Ben Botwe, advocated more attention for the sector as it has huge potential. For him, successive governments have said great things about the sector, but exhibited little action to propel its growth.

“There should be a conscious national effort. We must give the pharmaceutical sector a national priority. Some countries have done it and I have cited the India example; if we identify that pharma is a priority then what ever it takes to get in there, we should be able to do it so that we can manufacture for ourselves and also for export. When COVID came, we had the leadership to lead and look for resources to fight it. Now pharma has become critical, and we need to give it a lot more priority,” Mr. Botwe intimated.

FIN

 

 

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