Nigeria: Cost of oral morphine at the National Hospital Abuja reduced by 81%

July 2013 by Treat the Pain's Director, Dr. Meg O'Brien

National Hospital Abuja Mrs. Omokheoa and a pharmacy colleague show their new morphine supply to our Dr. Igharo.

I am in Nigeria for a couple of weeks with our analyst, Dr. Chris Igharo, to check in with the major teaching hospitals and see how they are accessing the new morphine powder that the federal government made available in January.

When we visited Mrs. Omokheoa, the pharmacist at the National Hospital Abuja, in May, she told us that they had been unable to find a source for the amber plastic bottles to begin reconstituting morphine and were still using very expensive imported morphine.

Dr. Igharo and I spent the rest of that day and the next visiting plastics manufacturers and local bottled water companies. We learned all about the supply chain for plastic bottles and eventually, Dr. Igharo was able to find a manufacturer to make the bottles we need and provided a few hundred to the pharmacy.

Two months later, we returned to find that the pharmacy is producing oral morphine solution with no problems. Best of all the price of their locally produced oral solution is 81% cheaper than the imported oral solution they were using before. Patients who used to pay 25 USD for a one-week supply now pay just 4.80 USD. And the bottles only cost us about 20 cents. So, that makes this the coolest thing we've seen in a while! Well done Dr. Igharo and Mrs. Omokheoa!

-Meg O'Brien

An earlier version of this blog entry pegged the reduction at 94%, but today we got to examine the imported solution and noted that the concentration was different. An 81% reduction is still cool in our book, especially since it looks to be a pattern holding at the other hospitals we visited today.