Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industry recently received a boost with the launch of Zentiva, a Sanofi company, on Wednesday February 24, 2016. Zentiva is the third largest and fastest growing generics company in Europe that develops, manufactures and distributes high-quality and affordable generics drugs to improve and prolong the lives of patients.
The event which was described as an epoch-making occasion attracted high-flyers in Nigeria’s pharmaceutical and healthcare industries.
Delivering his remarks, the Special Guest of Honour and Chair of the occasion, Dr. Babatunde Ipaye, the Honourable Commissioner for Health, Ogun State, stated that Zentiva’s entry into Nigeria would enhance accessibility to quality healthcare.
He said: “In Nigeria, there is dire need to offer quality healthcare service to the citizenry. There is a huge gap in the healthcare spend in the more developed economies when compared to what is spent on healthcare in this part of the world. Many citizens cannot afford the kind and quality of medicines that are used in developed countries. So, one of the ways to get the citizens to afford qualitative drugs is to support companies that produce generic medicines. That is why I will align with organizations that explore innovative ways of providing qualitative and affordable healthcare products and services.”
In his welcome speech, the Managing Director of Sanofi Nigeria-Ghana, Mr. Abderrahmane Chakibi, stated that the company’s ambition is to increase access to healthcare through the provision of innovative medicines and disease management expertise. He added that the company continually invests in research and development activities in order to discover and develop new therapeutic solutions in response to emerging health challenges.
He said: “One of our strategies is to continue to provide safe, effective and cost-effective medicines to support the driving down of overall healthcare costs. This is why we are today unveiling our rich portfolio of quality and cost effective generic medicines under the identity of Zentiva in Nigeria. It is in direct reinforcement of Sanofi’s ‘access to healthcare ambitions’.”
Mr. Chakibi further stated that quality healthcare need not be expensive. He added: “Our people deserve to have access to the best quality but yet most cost-effective medicines possible. With our extensive and secure distribution network, and the unique expertise of our workforce and trade partners, Sanofi is strategically positioned to make the Zentiva brands available to all who need it in Nigeria.”
Mrs. Titilope Owolabi, Director, Drug Evaluation and Research of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) educated the audience on the differences between innovator, generics and counterfeit drugs.
According to her, the innovator or branded drugs have undergone the process of research and development and have been patented and marketed; while generic drugs are the equivalent copies of the innovator drugs after the latter’s patents have expired. She further explained that generic drugs are subjected to the same level of regulatory scrutiny as the branded drugs and therefore must undergo similar process of quality assurance in their manufacture. Mrs. Owolabi stated: “Despite the lower costs of the generic drugs, considerations for their quality, safety and efficacy are never compromised when it comes to the process of their approval by the drug regulatory agency.”
The NAFDAC Director adduced the cost-effectiveness of generic drugs to the lower costs which its manufacturers have to bear compared with costs which the innovator had to bear in the course of drug discovery and development. She added that promoting generic drugs can help meet some of the objectives of healthcare reforms.
Dr. Kolawole Owoka, the Chairman of the Health and Managed Care Association of Nigeria (HMCAN) stated that he was glad that a multinational company is launching generic drugs in Nigeria. He said, “When you know generic drugs are being manufactured by pharmaceutical companies of repute, you are rest assured that you are getting quality drugs. Only about 10 per cent of drugs in Nigeria are manufactured locally. We need reputable companies, such as Zentiva, to establish their manufacturing plants in Nigeria for improved access to quality and affordable drugs.”
Mr. Gabriel Ogunyemi, the Head of the Primary Care Business Unit, Sanofi Nigeria-Ghana said while delivering his presentation that “hope is what Sanofi brings each day, responding to the new challenges of protecting the health of seven billion people. With its generic products, Sanofi strengthens its commitment to providing patients around the world with reliable access to high-quality, safe, effective and affordable medicines” He further explained that Zentiva’s strategy is hinged on safety, efficacy, quality and affordability guaranteed by Sanofi. He assured that Zentiva’s portfolio of generic drugs are effective and have similar potency as branded original drugs.