Dr Victor Bampoe, the Deputy Minister of Health, has said it was important for local pharmaceutical companies to produce drugs to enhance access and quality.
The Minister said while access to drugs was important, ensuring the quality of most imported drugs was challenging and brings in its wake high chances of the importation of substandard drugs.
Dr Bampoe was addressing the second Africa Pharmaceutical Summit and Pharmatech Africa Exhibition, a platform for companies, public and private sector leaders and stakeholders to interact and deliberate on issues relating to the development of the pharmaceutical sector.
The summit, which is being held in Accra from February 11 to 13, is focused on pharmaceutical products, formulation, raw materials, active ingredients, processing machinery, packaging machinery and equipment.
Dr Bampoe said it was to ensure the availability of drugs that the government had put in some incentives to support the pharmaceutical industry.
Pharmaceutical raw materials and machines imported for the purpose of pharmaceutical manufacturing are exempt from import duty and some taxes while some medicines have also been reserved for local manufacture only to protect them from foreign competition.
He added that consideration was being given to also exempt some pharmaceutical raw materials and inputs from value added tax (VAT).
Dr Bampoe said in addition to the challenge of ensuring quality, affordability continued to hamper access to safe and quality medicines and the cost of medicines accounted for over 50 per cent of medical claims of the National Health Insurance Authority.
He appealed to manufacturers to factor in the plight of the vulnerable and for participants at the summit to collaborate, transfer technology and pursue a growth-driving agenda.
Jürgen Reinhardt, Senior Industrial Development Officer of Investment and Technology Services at United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said that there was consensus that boosting local pharmaceutical production could improve public health and economic development by ensuring supply, reducing shortages and ad-hoc procurement and generating employment and income.