Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal firms on re­cov­ery path

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business -

ZIM­BABWE’S phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sec­tor is show­ing signs of re­cov­ery fol­low­ing im­port restric­tions on drugs, with ca­pac­ity util­i­sa­tion in some com­pa­nies dou­bling to 60 per­cent from 30 per­cent in the prior year.

The lo­cal phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try has strug­gled to re­cover from the decade-long eco­nomic cri­sis, which eased in 2009 and saw the sec­tor reg­is­ter­ing a mas­sive de­cline, with an es­ti­mated 90 per­cent of all phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts be­ing donor­funded and im­ported.

In Fe­bru­ary this year, the Gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced Statu­tory In­stru­ment 18 of 2016 to con­trol the im­port of drugs, a mea­sure also seen as try­ing to re­vive the sec­tor.

Among the re­stricted medicines are antacids, some painkillers, cer­tain an­tibi­otics, and spec­i­fied in­tra­venous in­fu­sion (IV) flu­ids.

“Some com­pa­nies are record­ing ca­pac­ity util­i­sa­tion of more than 60 per­cent from be­low 30 per­cent in the prior year be­fore the SI was put in place.

“The ben­e­fit of the in­creased ca­pac­ity util­i­sa­tion means busi­ness is vi­brant and they can de­velop strength to ex­port,” the chair­man of Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Man­u­fac­tur­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, Mr Em­manuel Mu­juru, said on the side­lines of a work­shop on the In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment Pol­icy.

The Gov­ern­ment said last De­cem­ber it was tak­ing over CAPS Hold­ings, the coun­try’s largest phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal man­u­fac­turer, which col­lapsed five years ago, in a bid to re­vive its op­er­a­tions but the move ap­pears to have stalled.

At its peak, CAPS ac­counted for 75 per­cent of the lo­cal health­care prod­ucts mar­ket and was in­volved in the man­u­fac­ture, whole­sale dis­tri­bu­tion, and re­tail of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal, con­sumer, and ve­teri­nary prod­ucts.

Zim­babwe has largely re­lied on im­ported drugs, mainly from In­dia, and its med­i­cal drugs bill from that coun­try rose from $14 mil­lion in 2008 to more than $50 mil­lion in 2013.

Mr Mu­juru said drug man­u­fac­tur­ers are also vic­tims of the cash crunch grip­ping the econ­omy, with pub­lic hos­pi­tals fail­ing to pay for the prod­ucts on time.

“We sup­ply the pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions and pay­ment is the crit­i­cal prob­lem. Hos­pi­tals are our key cus­tomers and they do not have money to pay on time. We are also en­gag­ing donors to buy lo­cally be­cause they usu­ally pro­cure their dona­tions abroad and flood the mar­ket,” he added.

The Gov­ern­ment is work­ing on the In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Pol­icy frame­work, which will be im­ple­mented between 2017 and 2021.

The frame­work is ex­pected to in­crease man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­ity util­i­sa­tion to 50 per­cent by 2021, from 34 per­cent cur­rently. — The Source

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