Government To Support Local Pharmaceuticals To Reduce The Cost Of Drugs

The Government will strengthen local pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity to reduce the cost of drugs and enhance implementation of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Health Cabinet Secretary (CS) Susan Nakhumicha said Kenyan manufacturers have captured about 30 percent of the $1 billion (Sh160 billion) Kenyan pharmaceuticals market, which is a step in the right direction. Speaking in Nairobi on Wednesday during the African Vaccine Manufacturing Supply Chain Forum, Nakhumicha said that developing Kenya's pharmaceutical manufacturing sector has been considered a core part of building a progressive and sustainable healthcare system that can respond to routine needs and emergencies as projected in Vision 2030. She explained that the Country has witnessed the development of a strong presence of domestic pharmaceutical manufacturers in specific product categories such as cough and cold preparations, antiprotozoal, antiseptics, anti-asthmatics, and antibiotics. 'Local manufacturers have excelled internation ally like Revital, a Kenyan syringe and diagnostics manufacturer, that obtained WHO pre-qualification in 2023 and aims to become a low-cost supplier for syringes, to UNICEF,' said Nakhumicha. She noted that Tasa Pharma, a sterile manufacturing facility with the capability to produce 10 million doses of ampoules, IV bags, and dental cartridges each year is yet another example of an excellent local pharmaceutical manufacturer. 'These achievements in the pharmaceutical industry have impacted Kenya's economy by contributing to growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and health care access, increase in the number of jobs, increasing local access to certain products, reducing prices of locally produced medical products given the drop in transport and import costs,' said Nakhumicha. The CS said that over the years, Africa has faced various outbreaks, including Ebola, and regular threats from other Africa-specific diseases such as Lassa fever or Rift Valley fever. She added that the Covid-19 pandemic, demonstrated the risk to the African Continent, therefore, highlighting the importance of investing in local pharmaceutical manufacturing. 'The benefits of establishing local manufacturing are manifold and can be seen in many other emerging markets, that have successfully built domestic pharmaceutical industries. Some of these include increased public-health resilience during times of pandemics and outbreaks, greater ability to timely address Africa-specific diseases, improved pandemic preparedness, and expansion of the skilled workforce among others,' said Nakhumicha. The CS said that in April 2021, the African Union (AU) member states, launched the Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM), with its secretariat with Africa CDC. The objective is to support the continent's vaccine manufacturing efforts to develop, produce, and deliver more than 60 percent of the vaccine doses needed on the continent by 2040, up from less than one percent at the time. She said that some of the challenges which face the acco mplishment of this goal include, complexity in the transparency of trade regulations linked to the import and trade of input materials and finished products, lack of expertise and know-how required for product's market authorization, quality control, and site inspection, to follow international standards among others. 'To achieve the ambitious goal, the African Union and its member states need to reduce our current dependence on imported active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and excipients to 50 percent and grow our local capacity to produce such input materials, increase the proportion of pharmaceutical manufacturers that meet national good manufacturing practices standards from 65 percent to 100 percent, and support local manufacturers that fully comply with global requirements for good manufacturing practices,' said Nakhumicha. She exuded confidence that the forum will enable African countries, to jointly collaborate and review the challenges and opportunities on the path to a strengthened and more in tegrated local supply chain further and bring the right stakeholders together, to develop effective, problem oriented solutions. Source: Kenya News Agency