Soaring Drug Prices in Nigeria Strain Healthcare Accessibility

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
3 Min Read

The financial burden of falling ill has intensified as the cost of essential medications, including antibiotics, analgesics, and anti-diabetics, has skyrocketed, leaving many struggling to afford vital healthcare. The alarming surge in drug prices is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest—those on minimum wages, those lacking a stable income, and especially those without reliable health insurance.

For individuals like Idowu Akinyemi, a single mother living with diabetes, the escalating prices of insulin pose a significant challenge. Idowu, shocked by the second price increase within a fortnight, now faces the dilemma of choosing between medication and providing for her children. Similarly, individuals like Dokun Bolarinwa, managing high blood pressure, are grappling with rising costs, leading to potential lapses in adherence to treatment guidelines.

Factors contributing to the escalating drug prices include rising production costs, disruptions in global and local supply chains, and the devaluation of the national currency, the naira.

Recent surveys highlight the dramatic price increases in common medications. Paracetamol-based analgesics, common cold medicines, antibiotics, and antimalarials have witnessed significant spikes. For instance, Ampiclox and Amoxil recorded increases of 340% and over 400%, respectively, between 2022 and 2023. Antimalarials like Lonart DS saw cost and selling price hikes of 110% and 92.3% between 2019 and 2023.

An investigation into pharmacy prices in Lagos reveals that all routine drugs, especially genuine antibiotics, analgesics, antimalarials, and prescription drugs, have experienced astronomical price hikes of 50–150% since the start of the new year.

Affordable access to insulin, crucial for managing diabetes effectively, is increasingly challenging as insulin prices in Nigeria continue to rise. Depending on the type, brand, pharmacy, and location, insulin prices range from N4,000 to N18,000 per cartridge/vial.

The escalating costs of chemotherapy drugs, experiencing a 300% increase, are placing an additional burden on those battling cancer, pushing essential medications beyond their financial reach. Furthermore, anti-depressants, priced up to N10,500 per month, limit access for many, leading some to resort to traditional remedies or forgo treatment altogether.

As Nigerians grapple with the financial strain of seeking healthcare, urgent solutions are needed to ensure that falling sick does not become a financial catastrophe, particularly for the most vulnerable members of society.

Soukaina Sghir

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