The Pharmaceutical Importers and Wholesalers Association says the outbreak of the novel coronavirus has not only affected their import business but has compelled many of its members to opt for other trade routes.
According to the Executive Secretary of the association, its members currently import about 80 percent of pharmaceutical products consumed in the country.
Joe Fiifi Yamoah speaking in an interview with GhanaWeb on March 12 said that if India, which accounts for about 40 percent of U.S generic drugs, is halting exports of more than two dozen Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API’s) and drugs, then its members back home in Ghana will now be faced with the threat of laying off staff which is detrimental to the nature of their business.
Last week, India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade announced that it was restricting 26 APIs and formulations until further notice. These restrictions range from paracetamol––the ingredient in Tylenol––to antivirals like acyclovir for treating shingles and antibiotic neomycin.
“If India has restricted importation of API’s then producers of pharmaceuticals are going to suffer because if your API falls in the category that has been restricted, that means you cannot even produce any drugs locally and since we don’t even manufacture API’s in Ghana but rather import them from Asia with the majority coming in from China, that’s going to place us in a very tight position in our business,” Fiifi Yamoah explained.
“Government even owes us [PIWA] and even without that, we’re unable to transact business as we ought to and so the monies that we have taken from the banks, we’re going to suffer because we won’t be able to service our debts as we ought to because of an already pending issue with the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) unable to furnish us with the list of health facilities it had paid to enable our members to access their one-year arrears of locked up funds,” he stressed.
On March 11, President Akufo-Addo in an address to the nation announced that government has begun to engage with the domestic pharmaceutical industry to assist in producing as much logistics required to prevent and combat the novel coronavirus.
“Indeed, we must take advantage of the crisis to strengthen our domestic productive capacity, so we can advance our self-reliance and reduce our dependency on foreign imports. Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention,” he said.