For Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries, 2024 promises to be a year of big bang and boost, not only for its wide- ranging production lines but also for the investment climate of Nigeria.
By the first quarter of the imminent year, an estimated 500 new jobs and more robust manufacturing mileage are expected to come for reviving and refloating the local economy. All these are coming through the local production of active pharmaceutical ingredients( APIs) being birthed newly by Emzor.
As at now, the Sagamu, Ogun State production plant of Emzor is a beehive of activities. Construction engineers on site are busy putting finishing touches to the production plants which, upon completion, would be churning out 400 metric tonnes of APIs yearly.
As at present, 90% of APIs needed in local industries are imported. This puts the industey in dire straits owing to difficulties in sourcing adequate forex to secure the ingredients. However, this narrative is changing by the first half of 2024 with the two- phased plants for the production of APIs by Emzor coming on steam.
Reports showed that Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries secured a £13.85million loan from the European Investment Bank, EIB to develop a $23million production plant which will start functioning in the first quarter of 2024.
Emeka Okoli, Chairman, Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries says that, with the loan, four anti- malaria APIs: artemether, lumefantrine, sulfadoxine and pyrimethamine would now be locally produced
Available statistics shows that Nigerian importation of finished drugs stood at N1.3billion as at 2021. With more than 150 pharmaceutical industries in Nigeria depending on only 25% of drugs locally available and 90% of imported APIs, Emzor’s forays into APIs point at new hopes for enhanced local production of drugs and widened raw material markets for players in the industry.
Many drug manufacturers in Nigeria are import- dependent. APIs are largely imported from China and India. With the production of these ingredients locally by Emzor, smaller manufacturers that could not order large consignment of drugs from China can now have their needs met locally.
Besides, foreign competitors operating in the Nigerian drug markets will lose sizeable portion of their clouts, as local APIs by Emzor will throw open the market for new local investors.
Another benefit of local production of APIs by Emzor is greater prospects of drug security and sufficiency for Nigeria.
Local drug manufacturers, over the years, have been calling on successive government to pay more attention to health care by investing in local drug production. The Emzor’s intervention is a new window of opportunity for drug security in the country.
Additionally, the devaluation of the Naira offers drug manufacturers better chances of local sourcing of APIs with attendant benefits of reduction of prices of drugs across the country.
Arthur Delor, Investment officer, Corporate Finance and Global Activities Department of EIB, says that his bank offered Enzor the facility to frontally attack malaria prevalence in Nigeria and bring up employment prospects for Nigerians.
“We are very excited about this operation and are confident that the development of this facility will bring many benefits to Nigerians and the broader African pharmaceutical sector, as it will contribute to reducing import dependency and ensuring a local and more resilient supply of high- quality competitively priced anti- malaria API”, he said.
Industry operators across the country are excited about the new investment drive. The y consider the initiative as a bold effort capable of deepening and strengthening the local pharmaceutical industry. ” Emzor’s investments in APIs at this stage of our economic challenge is a bold move. It is more than a business initiative. It is a patriotic effort that should be widely commended”, they said.