PPB attributes price hike in cancer drugs to exit of pharmaceutical companies from Nigeria

Project Pink Blue (PPB) has attributed the hike of medications for cancer patients across the country to exit of pharmaceutical companies from Nigeria.

The Executive Director of Project Pink Blue and the convener ,Runcie C.W. Chidebe, raised this concern at the World Cancer Day Symposium in Abuja, focusing on the critical theme “Economy, Taxation & Cancer Control: The Exit of Pharmaceutical Companies from Nigeria.”

The symposium brought together key stakeholders from the healthcare sector, government, and civil society to deliberate on strategies to mitigate the economic repercussions of pharmaceutical companies withdrawing from Nigeria, particularly in the context of cancer care.

Runcie decried that “Many patients are now suffering because they cannot afford that medication. It is now up to all of us including private sectors, government and all stakeholders to start asking ourselves about what can we do,”.

While reacting, the Minister of State for Health & Social Welfare, Dr. Tunji Alausa, said the federal government is trying a lot by providing cancer vaccines in the country.

In his words, “On the prevention of cervical cancer, on the 24 October 2023, as a country we introduced the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine into its routine immunization system, targeting 7.7 million girls, the largest number in a single round of HPV vaccination in the African region.

“The vaccine is being provided for free by the Federal Ministry of Health through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency with support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners.

“Girls aged 9–14 years will receive a single dose of the vaccine, which is highly efficacious in preventing infection with HPV types 16 and 18 that are known to cause at least 70% of cervical cancers.”

Responding to questions after the event, Senator Mohammed Sani Musa Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance disclosed that the Senate has passed a bill on cancer research and treatment.

He said it has been accented and became a law and that will give Nigerians opportunity for quick discovery as that will help for research and text of cancer in Nigeria.

He also assured that they are making efforts to look at tax administration. “We will look at the tax administration in Nigeria and see how we can conveniently give pharmaceuticals opportunity to come to Nigeria so that our citizens will get relief from high cost of cancer medication in Nigeria.”

In her part, Founder/CEO, Medicaid Cancer Foundation, UICC Board Member and the wife of former Governor of Kebbi state, Dr Zainab Shinkafi-Baguduothe, urged Nigerians who understand the danger of cancer to always provide awareness to people who are yet to understand it especially those that are living in the rural areas.