The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) has called on government to consider further restrictions on products with enough local manufacturing capacity from importation.
It said importation of products, including cough mixtures, blood tonics and various combinations of cyproheptadine/Lysine (tablets and syrups) and Ciprofloxacillin, should be restricted.
In a Communique issued at the end of a two-day symposium held in Accra, the PSGH said the limitations would increase the market size for local manufacturers, improve local manufacturing capability and capacity; and reduce the exchange rate pressure on the local currency and protect domestic health and safety.
It said it is important for government to continue a deliberate national policy to promote local manufacturing of pharmaceuticals.
While the PSGH commended government for restricting 49 drugs from importation and to reserve same for local manufacturing, the local pharmaceutical manufacturers have done well with the initiative and have produced products to meet local requirements.
"We note that there is still a wide range of medicines which are imported regardless of the manufacturing prowess of the local manufacturing companies and as such require an expansion of the list," the PSGH said in a Communique.
The communique urged government to consider expanding the list to other molecules and some essential medicines especially for generic medicines that are produced by more than five local manufacturers.
On the purchase of locally manufactured products, the communique applauded government for the introduction of the 15 per cent price preference policy for locally manufactured pharmaceutical products.
However, it said the policy implementation has experience challenges with government's own procurement practices.
It noted that while purchasing imported pharmaceuticals from some Asian countries may bring short term gains in financial savings, the long-term effect is that, the country would not be able assist local companies to improve their manufacturing capabilities and may collapse some industries in the long run.
"We conclude that while this is a very good policy, the lack of full enforcement for its implementation may have adverse effect on the local pharmaceutical manufacturing industries," it said.
We urge government through the public procurement authority to look at the policy implementation challenge and address issues with enforcement immediately to bolster confidence in local manufacturing.
The communique asked government to use its influence on the ECOWAS platform to promote regulatory harmonization to ensure that Ghana's products get free access to other markets within the sub-region.
On funding for start-ups and existing companies, the Communique said insufficient funding for start-ups is a major barrier that discouraged the birth of new manufacturing companies and even threatened the existing ones.
It acknowledged government for its support, including exemption from payment of VAT and the promised support through the Exim Bank to enable some existing companies to access funding for expansion.
Government should support more companies with further funding but with clear road map on expectations of government on the expansion strategy in line with national healthcare needs, it said.
"We hold that funding should also be made available for new start-ups with specific benchmark on which products government is interested in producing locally including for example anti-snake venom and other critical injectable products," it said.
It suggested the formation of a inter-ministerial taskforce for Pharmaceutical financing involving the ministers of Finance, Trade and industry Ministry for Business Development and Health to explore possible funding for new start-ups in the pharmaceutical manufacturing space.
It also called quick reimbursements to hospitals and other healthcare facilities who are NHIS service providers as delays continue to put a lot of strain on local manufacturers.