The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has released an amendment to its Healthcare Sector Research, and Development Intervention Scheme (HSRDIS) guidelines. According to the apex bank, the amendment is as a result of the recommendations of the Body of Experts (BoE). The CBN had released the initial guidelines for the scheme in early June this year as part of its policy response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Those guidelines stated that the BoE would be responsible for the review and evaluation of submitted research proposals, as well as recommend for financing, R&D projects with high potential to contribute to the development of Nigerian vaccines for infectious diseases.
In the new guidelines posted on its website yesterday, the CBN listed “medical devices” among eligible activities that would be qualified for grants under the HSRDIS. Thus, while in the previous guidelines, the CBN stated: “Specifically, the HSRDIS is designed to trigger intensresearch and development activities, which will help the country to develop a local vaccine, drugs and herbal medicines against the spread of COVID-19 and any other communicable or non-communicable diseases…, it has now amended the new guidelines to read “which will help the country to develop a local vaccine, drugs and herbal medicines/medical devices.”
Still under eligible research and development activities, whereas a section of the initial guidelines stated that candidate vaccines undergoing clinical testing or trials shall be eligible for consideration under the scheme, it is amended in the new guidelines to read that “candidate vaccines undergoing late preclinical and early clinical testing or trials shall be eligible for consideration under the scheme.” In addition, on the composition of the BoE, the CBN has amended the guideline to include a nominee from the National Biotechnological Development Agency (NABDA).
The amended guidelines also have a section, which states that “inventions arising from HSRDIS financed research and development projects must be reported to CBN that funded the grants. Individual researchers and pharmaceutical manufacturers are to retain substantial (80%) ownership of the drugs, medical devices, herbal medicines and vaccines made under HSRDIS funded research. Inventors are expected to file for patent protection and to ensure commercialization upon licensing for the benefit of public health.”
The CBN had said in June that the HSRDIS would be funded from the Developmental Component of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund (MSMEDF), adding that the grant limit would be a maximum of N50 million for research activities, while development or manufacturing activities would attract a maximum of N500 million grant.