Prosecute people inflating prices of anti-retroviral drugs, CISLAC, TI urge govt.

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By Augusta Uchediunor and Abiodun Azi

Lagos, Oct. 8, 2020 An NGO, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Transparency International Nigeria (TI) have called for prosecution of people who defraud government through inflated anti-retroviral drug supply services.

The Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Musa made the call, on behalf of the two groups, during a news conference on Thursday in Lagos.

The groups called on the newly-appointed Director-General of NACA to ensure stringent reforms in the agency’s procurement process for impactful, efficient, cost-effective, wider and sustainable service delivery in the country.

They said that the director-general should devise appropriate sustainability plan for the procurement of drugs and other consumables through cost-effective means.

The NGOs also stressed the need for the NACA director-general to encourage people with technical know-how in domestic production, especially in the face of dwindling donors’ support and avert the recurring of challenges, occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to call for proper investigation of the activities of politically-exposed persons (PEPs), who have constituted themselves into faceless contractors and their relationship with the leadership of the network of People Living with HIV.

We learnt that these PEPs, in connivance with some groups, are secretly working to obstruct and frustrate NACA’s efforts to purchase drugs and consumables directly from manufacturers.

“We also want NACA to stop fraudulent award of contracts in the health sector. We need to eliminate middlemen, especially those bringing fake products,” he said.

As part of sustainability plan, the groups urged regulatory authorities, such as NAFDAC, to support and enhance local production of affordable antiretroviral drugs, while issuing marketing authorisation to local manufacturers.

He also called for review of multiple taxations in the pharmaceutical sector by the local, state and federal governments as well as the high tariffs on raw materials being used in manufacturing medicines so as to encourage local production.

The groups, while stating that government should develop a pricing policy to reduce the wide disparity in the prices of essential drugs in the country, further stressed the need for transparency in the health sector.

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