Need for pharmaceutical policy to force local purchases of drugs – Former Chief Pharmacist

Former Chief Pharmacist for the Ashanti Region, Kofi Baryeh

The immediate past Chief Pharmacist for the Ashanti Region, Kofi Baryeh, is pushing for pharmaceutical procurement policy which will mandate government to buy a certain percentage of their medical supplies from local drug manufacturing companies in order to ensure that monies it (government) has pushed into the sector translate into the growth of the industry.

Government, through the Ghana Export-Import Bank (Eximbank), has supported the growth of the local pharmaceutical sector by enhancing companies’ capacity to expand. Eximbank has disbursed some US$50million to the pharmaceutical industry to help it achieve Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), which is a requirement by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that Ghanaian companies must achieve by 2020.

Mr. Baryeh says that these investments need to be protected and one of the means through which it can be done is the drafting of a local Pharmaceutical Procurement Policy. Speaking to the B&FT in an interview, the former Chief Pharmacist said: “As a country, what I believe in is that if we want to improve on local manufacturing, then, government must be seen to be buying about 50 to 70 percent from the local manufacturers. So, there must be a policy guideline indicating that, for all the regional medical stores, about 70 percent local procurement should come from local manufacturers and that policy should be written,” he said.

He added: “You go for meetings and they say buy from local manufacturer; it becomes very difficult for manager of the medical stores and the auditors because on the face value of the tender documents, the foreign produced drugs are cheaper and per the procurement laws, the right thing to do is to buy from the supplier giving you a cheaper deal. But we all know that there are a lot of things that help them to price cheaper that our local manufacturers do not enjoy.”

For him, the policy should be crafted in a way to ensure that quality would not be compromised as well as pricing would not be the benchmark for the procurement officer. “The local manufacturers must also try and price their products well so that they can compete. When government makes local procurement a policy, they can insert a clause in the policy guideline that, if the local product is about 10 percent higher than the imported product, buy the local product so that the procurement officers would be provided some space to support locals. In all these, we have to ensure that quality is not compromised and the FDA is available to help. So, we must just not be seen to be talking, there has to be a policy guideline indicating that we need to buy from our local manufacturing companies.

The Government buys a lot as compared to the private entities; therefore, government must be seen to be buying from locals. If the government sticks to pricing in the procurement of drugs, then the foreigners will win over the locals. A policy guideline is however important to direct the sector to favor locals.” Mr. Baryeh intimated.

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