The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) yesterday, disclosed that 90 per cent of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) N100 billion COVID-19 intervention fund has been disbursed to over 40 pharmaceutical companies in the country.
The president of (PSN), Sam Ohuabunwa, who disclosed this at a press conference in Lagos, said over 40 pharmaceutical companies were given not less than N2 billion each.
Ohuabunwa lauded the CBN COVID-19 intervention fund, but noted that the initiative could be marred by non-availability of forex to pharmaceutical companies.
He said: “A significant number of pharmaceutical companies have the money in their bank accounts, but have not been able to achieve the target of the intervention fund, because most of the raw materials and equipment needed to produce drugs are imported.”
The PSN president said the majority of pharmaceutical companies are still struggling to get foreign exchange. “If they can get forex, they will be able to buy equipment and the raw materials needed to manufacture drugs locally. We call on the CBN to make forex available for those who have received loans to acquire machinery and critical raw materials.
“I have said it over and over, the CBN and COVID-19 intervention funds, laudable ideas as they are, are yet to achieve their objectives. The impact of difficulty in forex access is that it portends grave danger and may undermine the noble objectives,” he added.
With forex at rates higher than the planned or forecast rates in the business plan, the president said the money received in naira may no longer be sufficient to meet the stated needs, adding that, the longer the naira is left in the banks awaiting piecemeal allocation of forex, the faster the value depreciates by growing inflation and the fewer the number of machinery and equipment or even raw materials that can be bought.
He told journalists that the PSN has written to CBN to make forex available to pharmaceutical companies so that the targets of the intervention funds will be achieved.
On the N30 billion drug revolving fund (DRF) owed the pharmaceutical industry by federal and state agencies, teaching hospitals, federal medical centers, parastatals, and other institutions, the PSN president noted that some of the debts are more than two to three years old and this development is stifling the growth and development of the industry.
“We know that these debtor institutions receive regular subventions from the government and they have sold the items to patients for cash. We could not understand why they are using the government space and reputation to incur debts and embarrass the nation as a difficult place to invest in and do business.”