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Nigerians spend 275% more on buying paracetamol in four years

The selling price of Paracetamol, which is a popular painkiller in Nigeria, rose by 275% in four years.

According to a new report by SB Morgen titled ‘Paying the price on health’, which was obtained by TheTimes, the selling price of Paracetamol was N40 in 2019.

However, by 2023, the price of this popular painkiller has increased to N150.

The report noted that Paracetamol by the local manufacturing firm, Emzor, recorded the highest price increase among other painkillers.

It read:

  • “Of all the brands considered in this category, Emzor is the only local manufacturer. Their Paracetamol brand also accounted for the highest rate of cost and selling price increase, growing by over 450% and 250%, respectively, since 2019.
  • “This may be due to the strong brand presence that Paracetamol has built as a painkiller amongst the populace, thereby giving the manufacturer room to transfer rising production costs to the end user.”

A year-on-year analysis showed that the price of 500MG of Paracetamol rose by 25% in 2020, 60% in 2021, 25% in 2022, and 50% in 2023.

Increase in other drug types

The report identified different categories of drugs aside from painkillers. Others include common cold medicines, antibiotics, and antimalarials.

For common cold medicines, it was stated that Actifed had the highest cost and selling prices from 2019 to 2023 due to reasons, such as the brand’s goodwill built over the years and the foreign factor of the company’s production process, making it vulnerable to forex volatility.

The report further noted that across all drug categories, the highest jump in the cost and selling prices were recorded for antibiotics.

It noted that the cost price of Ampiclox recorded the highest rate of increase between 2022 and 2023, jumping by 346 percentage points.

For selling price, Amoxil recorded the fastest rate of increase, jumping by over 400 percentage points within the same one-year period.

For the antimalarials, Lonart DS recorded the highest cost and selling price increase, jumping by 110% and 92.3%, respectively in the four years between 2019 and 2023.

FX shock triggered a price increase

In the report by SB Morgen, a pharmaceutical professor at the University of Lagos, Boladele Silva, noted that Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industry is highly exposed to shocks from foreign exchange volatility.

He said to SBM:

  • “In Nigeria, what we have are packaging hubs. The active pharmaceutical ingredients and most excipients used by the manufacturers are imported. That makes them very vulnerable to economic shocks.”

The report further concluded:

  • “The rising cost of drugs in Nigeria has far-reaching consequences that extend beyond the borders of the country. It threatens to exacerbate global health challenges by reducing access to essential medicines, increasing the spread of diseases, and undermining international health security.
  • “The high cost of drugs in Nigeria is forcing patients to skip doses or forgo treatment altogether based on anecdotal observations. This can lead to the development of drug resistance, making it more difficult to treat infections. It can also worsen chronic conditions, leading to increased morbidity and mortality.
  • “When patients are unable to afford essential medicines, they may resort to self-treatment or seek treatment from unlicensed practitioners, a development observed right across the country. This can lead to the inappropriate use of antibiotics, which contributes to the development of drug resistance. It can also increase the spread of infectious diseases as untreated patients continue to shed pathogens.”

TheTimes recently reported that there has been a surge of up to 1000% in the prices for GSK medications following the firm’s planned exit from the Nigerian market.

The Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria (NAIP) warned that there may not be enough of some critical medicines in the country because of the present economic downturn.

It said pharmaceutical companies might have a harder time getting important medicines to people unless the government does something about two very important problems: the very high price of diesel and the lack of foreign exchange.

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