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Cedi appreciation: Prices of medicines to drop

BY: Elizabeth Nyaadu Adu
Audrey Serwaa Bonsu (left), member of Community Practice Pharmacist Association, William Adum Addo (3rd from left), PIWA President; Lucia Addae (right), Secretary of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana and an FDA representative during a panel discussion at the summit

THE Chairman of the Ghana National Chamber of Pharmacy (GNCOP), Harrison Kofi Abubiate, has said the current cedi appreciation against the dollar will reflect on the prices of medicines on the market.

However, he urged the government to make the trend a continuous one to sustain businesses in the country.

“When we the stakeholders meet, we will look at how we can reduce prices accordingly because if prices of medicines went up as a result of cedi instability, now that it is appreciating, we must also consider what we can do to bring our prices down.

It is a wonderful development and we are praying that it will continue for our businesses to also thrive. If we cannot encourage more sales through lower prices, then we cannot do business so we will do everything to bring prices down,” Mr Abubiate assured.

Pharma Business Summit

Mr Abutiate gave the assurance in an interview with the media shortly after the India-Ghana Pharma Business Summit in Accra on December 13.

The summit was held on the theme: “Managing the Economic Challenges in Pharma Business in Ghana”.

It brought together players in the pharmaceutical industry, including importers, suppliers and manufacturers, to discuss ways to partner with each other to help catalyse the growth of the industry and improve investment.

He explained that in the past, the chamber advocated for the withdrawal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on medicines not produced locally in Ghana, championed the increase in the number of drug molecules of pharmaceuticals manufactured by our local pharmaceutical manufacturers’ association and negotiated with Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) Ghana to reduce the registration and re-registration fees of medicines.

That, he said, resulted in the drastic reduction in the fees of pharma manufacturing sites by the Ghana FDA.

“All these were done so that the cost of medicines to the final consumers will be reduced. We have given extended credits for sales to local distributors, clinics, hospitals and various health institutions.

“This is why when the current developments eroded our financial base and threatened the basic fabric of our finances and business survival, we had no other option than to request for a return to the cash and carry method of business transactions with our stakeholders,” Mr Abubiate said.

Pharmaceutical policy

A Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Michael Okyere Baafi, said: “The government in its bid to attract investments into the industry is developing the pharmaceutical manufacturing policy and a new policy with an incentive package to strategically attract investments in the areas of the pharmaceutical business.

“We only do about 30 per cent of the whole pharmaceutical demand in Ghana and so we have a lot to do to be able to meet our target. That 70 per cent gap needs to be filled.”

Challenges

The President of the Pharmaceutical Importers and Wholesalers Association (PIWA), William Adum Addo, said while the cost of doing business and overheads had gone up, individual purchasing power had gone down.

He said the cedi appreciating against the dollar would reduce the pressure on importers, however, some had already imported certain medicines at a very astronomical interest rate such that it would be very challenging for them to reduce their prices.

“So as much as we have a lot of opportunities doing business; currently, there are some challenges and it is my hope that the government will continue to do good things to sustain the momentum.

“Medicines are not ordinary commodities so the government must find a way of giving certain dispensations to pharmaceutical imports to help build a healthy population and boost productivity,” he said.