Nigerians worry about survival amid soaring prices of drugs, food

Many Nigerians have continued to decry the increasing price of drugs and called for an intervention from the federal government.

Residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Sunday said the continuous increase in the prices of drugs was no longer sustainable.

The prices of many prescribed and over-the-counter medications have witnessed a steady increase, making them unaffordable and unavailable.

The price increase was heightened by the exit of GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Nigeria Plc in August 2023 and Sanofi pharmaceutical multinational in November 2023 from Nigeria.

In one of the big pharmacies visited, Augmentin 625mg and 1g are selling for N12,300 and N13,300, respectively, as against N3,000 to N5,000, while Amoxil 500mg is selling for N4,060.

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The Ventolin inhaler sells at N8,870 against N2,000, while the Seretide inhaler sells at N31,950 against N8,000.

Stella Ekundayo, a businesswoman and mother of three, said the increasing prices of drugs had become unbearable, just like the increase in food prices.

“One card of paracetamol is now selling for N300 to N400. How can we spend that much for just paracetamol, which used to be N50 to N100? Antimalarial drugs have also increased,” said Ms Ekundayo.

According to her, Coartem antimalarial drug now sells for N6,100 against N3,000 plus.

“Food items have become very expensive, and drugs too are very expensive. How are Nigerians going to survive?” she queried.

Amina Abdullahi, a school teacher, said the hike in drug prices needed to be addressed by the government as it was no longer sustainable.

” I am an ulcer patient, and some of the drugs I take have increased by over 100 per cent in a few months. For instance, gestid used to be N400, but it is now selling at N1,000.

“Omeprazole now sells for between N1,000 to N5,000 depending on the brand, as against N500 in the past, which was the cheapest brand,” she explained.

Tola Bode, a businessman, said the increase in drugs, especially high-blood drugs, was alarming.

” I bought Exforge in December 2023 at N26,000. Currently, it is selling for N32,000. Only God knows how much it will be next month.

“There needs to be concrete steps by the government to address this issue,” he said.

Rachael Abujah, vice-president of the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists, said the increase in medication costs posed challenges for individuals, especially children suffering from ailments like asthma.

“A Seretide asthma inhaler manufactured by GSK, for example, cost about N8,000 in April 2023 but now retails for N70,000. Anti-biotics like Augmentin cost as much as N25,000 as against N4,500 in July 2023.

“How can Nigerians sustain this enormous increase? People are suffering. A father had to decide between buying an asthma inhaler for his child or paying the child’s school fees,” she lamented.

Ms Abujah said findings had shown that the increase in drug prices had also led people to buy expired drugs unknown to them because they were cheaper.

Following the astronomical increases in prices of drugs, some residents of the FCT have resorted to herbal concoctions commonly referred to as “Agbo” to treat various illnesses.

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