National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) says it is set to make Nigeria a hub of pharmaceutical research and development in Africa.
The Director General of NIPRD, Dr Obi Adigwe, said this on Sunday in Abuja.
Adigwe said that the institute had started taking practical steps to liaise with neighbouring African countries on how to add value to pharmaceutical production.
He added that “part of our plans in NIPRD is to provide value, not just for Nigeria but for the whole of Africa, starting from our immediate region which is West Africa that has 16 countries.
“We have been reaching out to various regional and continental bodies to let them know the expertise NIPRID has in bringing value to them.
“We will help to improve strategies that will increase access to health and making the best use of resources available on the continent.”
The director general said that such engagement had started yielding positive results as some countries had started collaborating with NIPRD.
“One of the bodies we reached out to is the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) which coordinates the healthcare aspect of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
“Based on our engagements, they signposted some people from Burkina Faso; two officers in charge of the country’s agency in charge of traditional medicine, and we already have a developed quality assurance programme for traditional medicine.
“So, we took them in and ran a two-week intensive internship. They passed the internship and we certified them,’’ he said.
He added that the plan was to get other African countries to key into the NIPRD Module for the development of traditional medicines.
“I have written officially to the Dean of African Ambassadors (Cameroonian Ambassador) to intimate him about our expertise and how we can bring value to other African countries,’’ he added.
He explained that NIPRD had produced the sickle cell drug, Naprisan and would soon be available in pharmaceutical stores across the country and beyond.
He said “for Naprisan, we have a licensing agreement with May and Baker, approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
“This will be a novel and very strategic approach to expanding the treatment and management of sickle cell disease.
“ We have been working tirelessly with May and Baker to bring the product to the market for Nigerians and the entire black population across the world who suffer from sickle cell disease to use.
“ We are also grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari for the key role he played so far in ensuring that Naprisan gets to the market.”
He said that NIPRD was, however, looking beyond Naprisan for the treatment of sickle cell.
“It is only one leg of the treatment. We are trying to put together a more comprehensive and multi-sectoral strategy to addressing sickle cell disease.
“This will include advocacy, public health preventative measures and more research into more efficient and more potent medicines that can be used to manage sickle cell.
“ With this multi-pronged approach, we can be talking about the end of sickle cell in Nigeria in the next two decades,’’ he said.