Federal Government Plans Executive Order To Reduce Drug Prices – Minister

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The federal government is set to issue an executive order aimed at regulating pharmaceutical prices to make essential medicines more affordable for citizens.

The Coordinating Minister of Health, Ali Pate, revealed this information to State House correspondents on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Bola Tinubu at the Presidential Villa.

Pate highlighted that the escalating costs of drugs have rendered life-saving commodities inaccessible for many Nigerians.

He explained that the executive order is designed to support the growth of local drug manufacturers and ensure the equitable pricing of essential medicines.

Pate noted that the departure of major multinational pharmaceutical companies from Nigeria has led to a reduction in competition.

According to him, this executive order aligns with President Tinubu’s dedication to prioritising improved access to healthcare, as outlined in the Renewed Hope Agenda.

He said, “Consistent with the President’s Renewed Hope Agenda, which puts the human capital, health and social welfare of Nigerians at the centre, today at the Federal Executive Council, Mr. President took three far-reaching decisions relating to the health sector.

“The first is on the rising cost of pharmaceuticals, the hike in prices that we have in the pharmaceutical, which is going beyond the reach of many Nigerians, life-saving commodities, devices like syringes and needles and the exit of major companies from our market.

“Those decisions also include the regulation of the sector to protect the health and well-being of humans, and the third decision is regarding how we deal with the crisis of human resources in the health sector.

“The first on the syringes, drugs, pharmaceuticals and other devices, as you’ll recall, Mr President, in his wisdom, at the end of last year, in October, approved an initiative to unlock the healthcare value-chain and appointed a coordinator for that. But, we know that the price of pharmaceuticals has escalated, and many entities have decided to withdraw, and some of the local manufacturers in Nigeria are struggling.

“The President’s intent is that we begin to take steps to enable the local manufacturers to survive, to thrive and to deliver the basic commodities that are key to saving their lives.

“And he directed that the Attorney General of the Federation work with us to come up with an executive order, which is the mechanism through which he will act, given the concern that he has that many Nigerians are suffering from the costs of pharmaceuticals, as well as other devices. That is the first important step and that should be coming very soon.

In a bid to fortify healthcare regulation and safeguard citizens, the minister mentioned that crucial regulatory bodies, including the Medical and Dental Council, will continue to receive funding without being subjected to the cuts affecting other professional associations.

Additionally, to tackle the shortage of healthcare workers, Pate stated that the council has granted the Health Ministry the authority to approve recruitment waivers directly.

This measure is expected to expedite the hiring process and alleviate delays.

The third is regarding the acute human resource shortage that we have. We know, and having gone around many of our hospitals, particularly federal tertiary hospitals, the replacement of health workers that leave oftentimes takes a very long time because waiver process takes several stages.

“Mr President directed in council that the approvals of those waivers be delegated to the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare so that it doesn’t have to go through the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.

“That will hasten the recruitment of health workers in terms of those who are out there unemployed, within limits of their fiscal resources.

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