The Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Professor Stephen Adei, has called for an expansion of the list of banned imported medicines to include more medicines that can be produced locally.
That, he said, would contribute immensely to scaling up efforts aimed at making Ghana a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub in West Africa.
The government, through an Executive Instrument in 2017, banned the importation of 49 medicines, including magnesium trisilicate suspension, amoxicillin capsules and suspension, and oral rehydration salt, which were reserved for local manufacturers.
At a conference in Accra last Tuesday, organised by the Pharmaceutical Society to discuss ways in which the country could become a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub, Prof. Adei said, there were many other foreign brands of pharmaceutical products on the market which local manufacturers had the capacity to produce.
"The government should be bold to engage industry players and ban the importation of those products to drive local manufacturing,” he urged, contending that expanding the restricted list will only improve local manufacturing without hindering access.
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Prof. Adei, who chaired the conference, also expressed concern about what he described as a trend on the part of some buyers, including government agencies who bought “cheap” pharmaceutical products from Asia rather than buying locally manufactured ones that “come at slightly cheaper cost.”
He said although such decisions may bring short-term gains, it could retard the progress of the local companies and could lead to their collapse in the long term.
He talked about the need for local pharmaceutical manufacturing companies to be provided with funding support to enable them to expand their ventures and develop the capacity to compete globally.
Organised by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) and Colorcon, a global pharmaceutical manufacturing and supply company, the conference assembled producers and suppliers of pharmaceutical products, pharmacists, institutions and other stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry to brainstorm.
It was on the theme: “Ghana as a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub – the way forward for national development.”
The President of the PSGH, Mr Benjamin Botwe, explained that the decision to initiate discussions about the pharmaceutical sector was in line with its mandate of ensuring accessible and quality pharmaceutical services to all.
He said as part of the engagements, the PSGH had developed a 10-year strategic plan to promote local manufacturing.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Pharmacy, Ghana, Mr Anthony Ameka, agreed with Prof. Adei that access to funds was a major determinant of the progress of the pharmaceutical industry and appealed to the government to provide flexible credit facilities to local producers.
Sector strategic document
For his part, the Minister of Planning, Prof. George Gyan-Baffour, identified the pharmaceutical industry as a leading sector to spur the country’s economic development.
For that reason, he said his outfit was working closely with the NDPC to expedite work on the drafting of the Ghana Pharmaceutical Sector Strategic document, which he described as “a good starting point on the discussion on making Ghana a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub.”