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How Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industry can reach full potential – NIPRD


Obi Adigwe, the director-general of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) has urged the federal government to prioritise policy concerning research and development, saying it is the most effective means to realise the potential in the sub-sector.

The call comes in the spirit of the inauguration of the AFDB’s African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, a continental initiative to promote the engagement of stakeholders and development partners.

Adigwe said the institute has fully galvanised resources and stakeholders to enable it to play a pivotal role in the initiative, in a statement provided to BusinessDay.

“Senior officials of the institute have long reiterated the need for policy prioritisation of R&D, alongside a deeper engagement of foundations. A strategic partnership between NIPRD and the AFDB’s emergent Foundation is, therefore, a step in the right direction,” he said.

NIPRD was a major contributor to the national and global response at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, providing an internationally acclaimed analysis that underpinned many African governments’ position on the Madagascan Covid-19 organic treatment.

Read also: The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation: NMRAs must upgrade to match impending boom in Africa’s pharma sector
While the work saved lives on the continent, Africa conserved millions of dollars that would otherwise have been expended on an unverified product, instead research and development resources were prioritised for more effective solutions.

NIPRD for the first time in the country’s history constituted an interdisciplinary team of over 20 eminent professors drawn from various universities and geopolitical regions to form the National Scientific Advisory Committee (NSAC) on the verification of claims by practitioners.

The director-general who convened the NSAC argues that the landmark achievement not only ensures that coronavirus cure claims are subjected to the highest international science, it also ensures that the relevant standards of safety and efficacy are maintained, in order to safeguard the lives of Nigerians.

The report of the committee has now been distributed widely across the world.

The institute also leveraged its reputation as the first African institute to develop a world-class phytomedicine from drug discovery up to phase two clinical trials, to begin work on repurposing Niprimune, its flagship immunomodulatory agent for relevant clinical studies for COVID-19.

Earlier in the pandemic, NIPRD pioneered and strongly advocated the indigenous manufacturing of hand sanitisers from locally sourced raw materials.

The institute’s notable concept produced its own brand of hand sanitisers and this has gone on to become famous for its high international quality.

The institute has also been involved as a sponsor as well as a technical partner in a number of ongoing randomised control trials aimed at scientifically proving the efficacy of a number of conventional medicines currently at the clinical trials phase.

Under the current director-general, its workforce has been transformed into an agency, where every single confirmed staff has received laptops and tablets to optimise their respective activities.

In addition, there has been a tenfold increase in local and foreign training for researchers and non-technical staff, which has significantly impacted the quality of the institute’s work and consequently improved access to relevant health and socioeconomic variables.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, NIPRD retained its ISO 17025 certification through remote testing, making it the first in the region to accomplish this via this model. The institute had earlier emerged as the first in the region to gain both ISO 17025 and 9001.

Recent reforms in NIPRD include capacity building, infrastructure renovation, and new commissioning. Also, cutting-edge equipment has been purchased, and innovative research and development projects aimed at improving health and socioeconomic indices have been undertaken.

These initiatives and many others have now rekindled NIPRD’s recognition as a world-class leader in Pharma R&D by its increased statutory representation on high-level committees convened by pertinent Global, Continental, and National organizations such as World Health Organisation (WHO), West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO), TETFUND, Central Bank of Nigeria, COVID-19 Presidential Task Force and many others.

NIPRD has also emerged as a continental leader in the conceptualisation of strong pan-African initiatives, as well as the introduction of cutting-edge technologies on the continent, such as the use of Nanotechnology and Artificial Intelligence in Drug Discovery.

Adigwe played a seminal role in the articulation of the Medicines’ Security concept that links local manufacturing with access to healthcare and socioeconomic development, especially in areas such as job creation, technology transfer, and revenue generation.



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