Building a Competitive and Socially Inclusive Local Pharmaceutical Manufacturing in West Africa through Enhancing Research, Innovation & Intellectual Property

Many African countries, through their development plans, have prioritized provision of and access to affordable healthcare services. However, the realization of these aspirations has been constrained due to the high costs of imported medicines, which not only increase the health burden but also have negative implications for access and affordability. Affordability is important since up to 90 % of the populations buy medicines through out-of-pocket payments. As a result, many African countries have started initiatives to promote local pharmaceutical industries, to address the issue of high costs of imported medicines and to tap on additional benefits that local pharmaceutical industries can bring, such as creation of employment opportunities, technology and skills transfer and enhancing intra-Africa trade. Most production consists of non-complex, high volume essential products, such as basic analgesics, simple antibiotics, anti-fungal against, anti-helmintics, anti-diabetics, anxiolytics, anti-malarial drugs, antacids and vitamins. Despite huge potentials for local pharmaceutical production in ECOWAS, the above-mentioned challenges facing African countries in the sector militate against the policies of governments of the ECOWAS, which largely seek to promote local production of pharmaceuticals.