Dr Bilali Camara, Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) in Nigeria, on Wednesday said that Nigeria would commence local production of anti-retroviral drugs in early 2016. He disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He said anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) produced by Evans, a Nigerian pharmaceutical company have been already been used to stock the ECOWAS owned medical store Ghana and it has helped in keeping people in Ghana on HIV treatment till date.
However, the U.S President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR/Emergency Plan) and Global Funds, the biggest purchasers of ARVs have already engaged China and Indian companies for the production of anti retroviral drugs for the countries where they are working which include Nigeria; providing unhealthy competition for indigenous drug producers.
He recommended that UNAIDS Nigeria make requests to the regional office and other stakeholders, to make a political decision that will protect the local production of the drugs in Nigeria.
In conclusion, he said, there are a lot of benefits in the local production of the drugs and UNAIDS will continue promoting it, till we can stop relying on foreign donors. This means supporting more indigenous firms to start producing ARVs.
For me, it's a yes to Nigerian-produced ARVs as long as they remain effective and safe without counterfeit drugs slipping in.