Photo Credit: Nairametrics
Following the recent announcement of GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) departure from the Nigerian pharmaceutical market, there has been a notable surge in the prices of GSK medications, with increases reported to be as high as 1000%.
The significant rise in the cost of these medicines has sparked widespread concern among Nigerians, many of whom have expressed their frustrations on social media platforms.
The escalating prices can be attributed to a combination of factors: the withdrawal of GSK, a major player in the pharmaceutical industry, and the burgeoning rate of inflation in Nigeria.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s inflation rate as of October 2023 stood at 27.33%, the highest recorded since August 2005. This persistent upward trend in inflation has been a key driver in the rising costs of various goods and services, including pharmaceutical products.
The compounded impact of Nigeria’s increasing inflation rate and GSK’s exit from the local market has had a substantial effect on the affordability and availability of medicines, posing significant challenges for healthcare in the country.
On August 3, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a prominent UK-based pharmaceutical company, communicated to its Nigerian branch, GSK Consumer Nigeria Plc, its decision to discontinue the direct commercialization of its prescription medicines and vaccines in Nigeria.
These included the prevailing insecurity in the region, the government’s decision to remove fuel subsidies, and the overall high cost of conducting business in Nigeria. These elements collectively contributed to GSK’s strategic realignment in the Nigerian pharmaceutical market.
Following GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) announcement, traders of pharmaceutical products report that there has been a noticeable scarcity of GSK drugs across the country.
This comparison highlights the disparities and provides a clear picture of how the market has been affected by the company’s strategic withdrawal.
Nairametrics conducted interviews with community pharmacists to delve into the causes of the recent surge in drug prices, customer reactions, and their expectations from the government.
All the pharmacists interviewed pleaded anonymity as they feared victimization by industry stakeholders some of whom do not encourage speaking to the media about prices.
Addressing government intervention, one pharmacist expressed, “We all want the government to work on the foreign exchange rate.
The dollar-to-naira rate is really impacting and affecting the lives and health of Nigerians.
They should also look for ways to entice these companies back while boosting our local pharmaceutical manufacturing companies like Emzor to fund these companies so they can get to a certain level of standard of operation.”
According to the BMC Infectious Diseases Journal, there is a significant prevalence of antibiotic use in Nigerian hospitals, estimated at 78.2%. The journal notes that antibiotics produced by GSK are among the most frequently prescribed due to their proven efficacy.
This situation is exacerbated by the current economic challenges and the scarcity of these crucial medications.
Culled from Nairametrics