New DG: Bringing comatose NIPRD back to life again

September 12th, 2018

Few weeks ago, the Presidency appointed a new Director General/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD). Our Health Editor, HASSAN ZAGGI, examines the credentials, capacity and the experience of the new DG and concluded that with the needed support, NIPRD that was almost dead, will soon bounce back to life.

The euphoria that followed the appointment of the new Director General (DG) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Dr. Obi Peter Adigwe, among stakeholders in the pharmaceutical research and development sector, is no doubt, a pointer that, better days are head for the Institute.

This is premise on the fact that NIPRD, established in 1989 with the mandate to provide support and raw materials to the indigenous pharmaceutical industry, has performed far below expectation over the years.

In fact, to put it the way it is, despite the efforts of the past Directors General of NIPRD and indeed, the brilliant professors and other staff of the Institute, the Institute has remained weak and unable to achieve its mandate due to myriad of challenges, prominent among which is inadequate funding.

NIPRD, to say the fact, need new ideas, new thinking, new vision, sophisticated connection, experience and high level collaboration (both local and international) to enable it achieve its mandate.

NIPRD was established by the Federal Government Order No. 33 Vol. 74 of June 11th, 1987 Part 8, under the Science and Technology Act Cap 276. The over-aching goal for the establishment of the institute was to carry our Research and Development (R&D) of drugs, biological products and pharmaceutical raw materials based on indigenous resources.

There is, however, a general consensus among stakeholders in the pharmaceutical research and development sector that the appointment of Dr. Adigwe is timely, hence commendable.

One major thing that made the appointment of Dr. Adigwe interesting is because he was picked from among the best brains in the country.

Dr. Adigwe who holds Doctorate in Pharmaceutical Policy (Ph.D.) from the University of Leeds; Masters in Global Health and Public Policy from University of Edinburgh, was appointed after emerging as the top scorer (80 points) in a merit –driven-rigorous and comprehensive interview process, which had in attendance, some of the best brains in the Nigerian Pharmaceutical Research and Development sector.

Prior to his appointment as DG NIPRD, Dr Adigwe was the Executive Secretary of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group (PMGMAN), where he played key roles in the development and implementation of policy initiatives which made considerable impact on the pharmaceutical industry.

Some of his achievements in PMGMAN, according to findings by The AUTHORITY, include the prioritisation of the pharmaceutical industry in the 2016 fiscal policy, and the organisation of the landmark 2017 Pharma Expo.

He also made significant contributions to the conceptualization of the internationally renowned Medicines’ Security Concept.

Dr Adigwe, findings indicated, was also the pioneer Head of the Health Policy Research and Development (HPRD) Unit at the Nigerian National Assembly, where he formulated research and development strategies in Health Policy as well as developed innovative and contextual training, research and capacity building modules.

He has a significant number of peer reviewed publications including the first K.A.P. study on Ebola in Nigeria, as well as a seminal paper on Rational Use of Medicines. While in the United Kingdom, he had also co-authored a write-up that influenced an epoch-making health policy reform in the British Parliament.

Dr Adigwe has undertaken many national assignments, and has headed, as well as served on numerous committees and working groups at the highest levels. Some of them include the D8, United Nations, World Health Organisation (WHO), the African Union and the ECOWAS.

He has won several academic honours including the prestigious University of Leeds’ GRASS Post-Doctorate award.

Dr Adigwe’s letter of appointment which was signed by the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and sighted by The AUTHORITY, reads in part: “I write to inform you that His Excellency, the Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has approved your appointment as Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Idu, Abuja, for a term of four (4) years with effect from 10th August, 2018.

“It is my expectation that you will not only work to ensure that you drive the research for new pharmaceutical materials, but endeavour to improve on present achievements and leave your mark of progress on that institution.

“I also urge you to justify the confidence reposed in you by the appointment and work with all stakeholders for industrial peace and in support of Mr. President’s Change agenda. “

It is pertinent to state here that Dr. Adigwe has a lot to do, if NIPRD is to fulfill its mandate and become a reference point globally in terms of pharmaceutical research and development.

As stated earlier, the Institute has, over the years suffered lack of funding due to neglect by the federal government.

Therefore, Dr. Adigwe must know that transforming the Institute and making it a profitable organisation is not going to be a ‘tea party’. He must explore all avenues to convince the executive and the legislature to allocate and release sufficient funds for the running of the institute.

For NIPRD to make impact globally, it must collaborate heavily with other international research organizations.

No doubt, Dr. Adigwe, from findings, has a lot of international connections, hence, this is the time for him to trigger these connections for the growth and development of NIPRD.

Investigation by The AUTHORITY revealed that NIPRD over the years did not enjoy a smooth relationship with the National
Assembly, Dr. Adigwe must change the narrative if the Institute must succeed. He must work closely with members of the National Assembly and the Ministry of Health, especially the Ministers.

For Dr. Adigwe to make the needed impact and transform NIPRD in the next four years of his first term tenure, he must bring his constituency- the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group (PMG-MAN) and work closely with them.

It is also necessary to call on the PMGMAN to know that one of them has a challenge in his hand, hence, they must come with all kinds of support (cash and kind) to enable him succeed for the good of the country.

It must be stated clearly that NIPRD has the capacity to generate huge revenue for the government and also generate hundreds of opportunities for different sectors of the country, hence, all Nigerians must join hands with Dr. Adigwe to make the Institute a reference point globally.

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