Drug prices in Nigeria may increase by as much as 100 percent in just a matter of weeks. This is because of the recent hike in the price of drug registration by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
Note that the food and drug regulatory agency recently increased the cost of registering new prescription drugs from N350,000 to N1.05 million.
The impending price increase was disclosed on Thursday by the Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (Lagos Chapter), Mrs. Bolanle Adeniran, who spoke at an event organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
According to Mrs. Adediran, unless NAFDAC recants its decision to increase its drug registration levy by as much as 350 percent, the prices of drugs across the country will increase by 100 percent by two months time. She described NAFDAC’s fee hike as “damaging”.
“NAFDAC made the most damaging move in the last couple of weeks by increasing drug and product registration levy by a whopping 350 percent. Specifically, from N350,000, it now costs N1.05m to register a prescription-only medicine, while over-the-counter drugs have moved from a hitherto expensive N1m to N4m in Nigeria.
“If this draconian policy is not reversed or immediately remedied, the PSN, Lagos State Branch, wishes to warn through this forum that Nigeria will experience at least a 100 per cent increase in drug prices in about six months, with grave consequences of morbidity and mortality to consumers of health in our nation.”
In the meantime, the Lagos PSN boss called on NAFDAC to find a way to fast-track the registration process for new drugs. The process currently takes two years, a situation Mrs. Adediran said is too long.
What does this mean? A 100 percent increase in the prices of prescription drugs could automatically make them unaffordable by quite a number of Nigerians, many of whom live on the edge of the poverty line. HMO’s who cater to the medical needs of employees should also be worried as this could impact on their premiums.
This could never augur well for either the patients, the drug manufacturers, or the economy at large. This is because when the prices of drugs go up, the people who need them cannot buy them. And when drugs cannot be purchased due to their exorbitant prices, the pharmaceutical industry will not contribute adequately to national GDP.
Also, note that a hundred percent hike in the prices of drugs could encourage the sale of fake and substandard drugs in the country. When the prices of goods increase as a result of the increased levy for registration, dealers in fake products tend to sell more because their products will be cheaper and more affordable for Nigerians.