NIPRD Galvanises Ahead Of AfDB Pharma Foundation Launch

Ahead of the commencement of the Africa Development Bank’s (AfDB) African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, reports reveal that the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) has fully galvanized resources and stakeholders to enable it to play a pivotal role in the continental initiative.

It would be recalled that in the heat of the Covid-19 pandemic, NIPRD emerged as a major contributor to the national and global response.

NIPRD provided the internationally acclaimed analysis that underpinned much African Government’s categorical position on the Madagascan Covid Organics preparation. This analysis went viral internationally, with scientists and policymakers around the world referencing NIPRD’s seminal work on the product.

With their work, a multitude of lives on the continent was saved, Africa conserved millions of Dollars that would otherwise have been expended on an unverified product, and Research and Development resources were prioritized for more effective solutions.

NIPRD for the first time in Nigeria’s history constituted an interdisciplinary team of over 20 eminent and erudite Professors drawn from various universities and geopolitical regions to form the National Scientific Advisory Committee (NSAC) on the verification of claims by Practitioners. NIPRD DG, Dr. Obi Adigwe who convened the NSAC argued that the landmark achievement not only ensured that coronavirus cure claims are subjected to the highest international science but also ensures that the highest relevant standards of safety and efficacy are maintained, to safeguard the lives of Nigerians. The report of the Committee has now been distributed widely across the world.

The Institute also leveraged its reputation as the first African Institute to develop a world-class phytomedicine from drug discovery up to phase 2 clinical trials, to begin work on repurposing Niprimune, its flagship immunomodulatory agent for relevant clinical studies for COVID-19.

Earlier in the pandemic, NIPRD pioneered and strongly advocated the indigenous manufacturing of hand sanitizers from locally sourced raw materials. The Institute notably concept produced its brand of hand sanitizers and this has gone on to become famous for its high international quality.

The Institute has also been involved as a sponsor as well as technical partner of ongoing Randomised Control Trials aimed at scientifically proving the efficacy of several conventional medicines currently in the Clinical Trials phase.

Under the current Director General, the Institute’s workforce has been transformed into a world-class agency, where every single confirmed staff has received laptops and tablets to optimize their respective activities.

Similarly, there has been a tenfold increase in local and foreign training for researchers and non-technical staff, which has no doubt significantly impacted the quality of the Institute’s work and consequently improved access to relevant health and socioeconomic variables.

Evidence of this emerged, when despite the challenges of the pandemic, NIPRD retained its ISO 17025 certification through remote testing, making it the first in the region to accomplish this via this model.

The Institute had earlier emerged as the first in the region to gain both ISO 17025 and 9001, as well as achieving Centre of Excellence status in several thematic areas.

Recent reforms in NIPRD are, however, not limited to capacity building. Reports indicate that in the past three years, key infrastructure has been renovated and new ones commissioned; cutting-edge equipment has been purchased, and innovative research and development projects aimed at improving health and socioeconomic indices have been undertaken.

These initiatives and many others have now rekindled NIPRD’s recognition as a world-class leader in Pharma R&D by its increased statutory representation on high-level committees convened by pertinent Global, Continental, and National organizations such as World Health Organisation (WHO), West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO), TETFUND, Central Bank of Nigeria, COVID-19 Presidential Task Force and many others.

NIPRD has also emerged as a continental leader in the conceptualization of strong Pan-African initiatives, as well as the introduction of cutting-edge technologies on the continent, such as the use of Nanotechnology and Artificial Intelligence in Drug Discovery.

Dr. Adigwe played a seminal role in the articulation of the Medicines’ Security concept that links local manufacturing with access to healthcare and socio-economic development, especially in areas such as job creation, technology transfer, and revenue generation.

Last month, the Institute published a seminal article on the relationship between Intellectual Property Rights and access to Covid-19 Vaccines in the prestigious PLOS Global Public Health Journal.

The publication emanated from the widespread debate generated by a world-class webinar convened by the Institute at the heart of the pandemic, when Africa which did not have manufacturing capacity, was strategically denied equitable access to vaccines.

Whilst this peer-reviewed publication is evidence of a strong alignment of the Institute and AFDB’s strategic objectives in Health Security Independence, it is also a practical illustration of the unique ‘policy to practice’ approach adopted by the Agency in all of its initiatives.

A preliminary review of media reports revealed that senior officials of the Institute have long reiterated the need for policy prioritization of R&D, alongside a deeper engagement of foundations and development partners, as the most effective means of achieving Continental health and socio-economic potentials. A strategic partnership between NIPRD and the AFDB’s emergent Foundation is therefore a step in the right direction.

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