Coronavirus: Avoid situation where local pharmaceutical manufacturers halt production

Thu, 16 Jul 2020 Source: thebftonline.com

The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana (PMAG) is sounding a warning that if debt owed its members by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) is not paid soon, it could push manufacturers to halt production.

Over GH¢300million of debt owed members has not been paid, despite persistent complaints which eventually led to withdrawal of credit deals with some regional medical stores and service providers funded by the NHIA.

According to the Association, the situation is denying local drug manufacturers the funds needed to operate, and that will have negative implications for the fight against COVID-19 as they may no longer be able to produce.

This warning should not be treated lightly since we are already confronting a health crisis with outbreak of the pandemic, which is causing problems for our health care system as it stands. Compounding the problem with pharmaceutical manufacturers halting production of essential drugs will worsen the crisis even further.

Kofi Baryeh, a former Chief Pharmacist for Ashanti Region, is strongly encouraging government to recapitalise the various medical stores of the regions, and make sure proper measures are put in place to ensure sustainability and accountability.

If that is not done and we want to leave the Regional Medical Stores to function properly, it will take them about 10 years to make enough profit to turn things around if issues of misappropriation and mismanagement are not avoided, he added.

Executive Secretary of the PMAG, Lucia Addae, laments that members take loans and those loans are pegged to collaterals; once you exhaust your limit, even if you want [to produce the COVID-19 drugs], you can’t.

“If you don’t have money because government owes you up to five years, there is no way you will have money to bring in COVID-19-related medicines.” NHIA must redeem its obligations to local pharmaceutical manufacturers so that they are capitalised enough to produce COVID-related drugs, since our borders remain closed and other jurisdictions are protective of their stock.

The spike in number of infections means such medicines are needed now more than ever. Therefore, government must make good on its commitments so that drugs will be available to treat the growing number of cases.

Source: thebftonline.com