The President of National Movement for the Actualization of Good Governance (NAMAGG)- a Nigerian Pressure Group Made up of Lawyers, Doctors, Pharmacists, Engineers Media Practitioners, Student Leaders, et Al has countered the assertion by GSK Consumer Nigeria PLC attributable to its Director of Communication and Governmental Affairs – Mr. Omongiade Ehighebolo that the Scarcity of GSK Drugs and Vaccines is caused by scarcity of Forex.
A Statement issued in Lagos on the 4th of June, 2023, by the President of the National Movement for the Actualization of Good Governance (NAMAGG)-Douglas Ogbankwa Esq states thus:
“Our attention has been drawn to a Press Statement by GSK Nigeria Consumer PLC issued by its Director of Communications and Governmental Affairs and we wish to rebut the facts there stated which do not represent the true state of affairs in this matter. We consider the attribution of the current acute scarcity of GSK critical medicines and vaccines to the non-availability of Forex as misleading.
“While we acknowledge the fact that companies operating in Nigeria have struggled significantly with the availability of forex for their operations in the last 4years, we do have verifiable information that confirms our position that the current drug scarcity of GSK drugs is aimed at implementing GSK’s exit from Nigeria at the detriment of the local shareholders and patients.
“Over the last 4years, GSK international has implemented a strategic restructuring of their operations in Africa which has led to the shutting down of their offices across the continent with GSK Nigeria being the last GSK office left in sub-Sahara Africa. We do believe that the current forex challenge is being used as a ploy to implement the same strategic restructuring of its operating model in Nigeria too.
“For better understanding of this model, it involves the shutting down of GSK manufacturing and sales operations in the country and movement of the importation of their drugs and vaccines to a distributor. We have taken some time to review the new model with which GSK international now delivers its medicines and vaccines to countries across Africa where it has implemented similar restructuring. A review of this operation across Africa shows that GSK manufacturing operations and offices are closed, employees laid off and these costs are passed off as profit to GSK international.
“While we believe that every company has the right to implement restructuring or changes to its operating model in any country, we are firm believers that this should never be done at the detriment of patients and shareholders who have jointly built the GSK business in Nigeria.
In a chat with a leading respiratory care consultant who chose to speak in anonymity, “I am really disappointed at the way and manner GSK has gone about their response to whatever forex challenges they have. GSK is not the only global pharmaceutical company operating in Nigeria but they are the only ones that now have no supply of their critical asthma management medicines.
“As I speak to you, you can walk into any pharmacy across the country and you will not find basic asthma management medication like Ventolin and GSK antibiotics. I also find their statement asking patients to ask their doctors to prescribe other medications insulting, how can competitors supply enough medicines to cover for the exit of the medicines of a company which current controls over 75% patient usage? No matter how you position it, patients are suffering because a global company has decided to put its profit above the lives of Nigerians.
“While I cannot speak to your speculation around their exit, I am more worried about my patients, and if this drug scarcity is aimed at an exit from Nigeria, it will be very sad, as this was not done in other African countries. I have friends in Kenya where they exited last year and there was no medicines shortage.
” I truly hope our local manufacturers step up and reduce our dependence on imported medicines. Nigeria should be an exporter of medicines; this is really disheartening that a company that prides itself as being ambitious for patients can keep its medicines from patients in the largest country in Africa.
“I will really like NAFDAC and the CPC to step into this current scarcity to understand if a global company is unduly taking advantage of the Nigerian patient”
An expert who monitors the capital market-Simon Obiyan stated thus : “We have been monitoring the recent results from GSK Consumer Nigeria and I must say we are worried at the speed with things are deteriorating. GSK Consumer Nigeria is a leading healthcare company with strong fundamentals, solid local management and very good relationship with GSK International.
” In the last 5 months we have seen GSK Nigeria miss the submission of their annual report which resulted in a widely reported fine from the NGX, a poor Q1 result and medicines scarcity across all their brands. I would be lying if I say I am not worried that there is more to what was communicated by the company in their recently released press release. All companies on the Nigeria capital market have reported the impact of forex scarcity on their operations but no one has had to stop supplying the market with their products. I am looking forward to their AGM which is coming up next week to find out what is really happening, I trust the current chairman and the board will do what is right for the Nigerian shareholder.
“I will like to know why a company like GSK could not secure forex for its imports and if supply to the market can be restarted immediately with the recent policy of our new President which makes forex available to companies like GSK. I really hope there is no plan to shut down the company because it will be resisted as we did in 2013 when GSK international tried to acquire our shares forcibly via a faulty scheme of arrangement.
” GSK international must realize that GSK Consumer Nigeria is owned largely by Nigerian Shareholders and we have worked tirelessly with our investments to build this business over the last 40years and this cannot be wiped away by a minority shareholder seeking more profit”