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Asian competition and counterfeits top challenges for African drugmakers says FAPMA

By Gareth MacDonald+

23-Jan-2013
Last updated the 07-Feb-2013 at 17:37 GMT

‘Unfair competition’ from Asian drugmakers and the prevalence of counterfeits are among the challenges facing African manufacturers according to a new pan-African industry group set on fostering local production.

The Federation of African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (FAPMA) - which will officially launch on Friday – is intended to give local firms a voice in the implementation of the African Union's Pharmaceutical manufacturing plan for Africa.

Spokeswoman Tsungi Moyo told in-Pharmatechnologist.com that “Unfair competition from Asian importers, who benefit from government subsidies and incentives."

This was echoed by Paul Lartey, CEO of Ghana-based API manufacturer and drugmaker LaGray Chemical company, who told us that: "Both the Government of India and China grant incentives for pharmaceutical exports to manufacturers.

"For India, it is 2-4 per cent and in China 9 per cent. The Indian industry is currently petitioning the Union Minister for Trade and Industry to grant incentives equal to that of China in order to improve their competitiveness. 

"Recall that India is a net exporter of pharmaceuticals and produces a major percentage of its raw material needs.  The Africa-based industry, however, produces significantly less than 30% of Africa's needs and imports almost all of its raw material."  

This also chimes with what UNIDO told us a few years back when spokesman Juergen Reinhardt explained that Government policy makers in countries across Africa had started to argue that reliance on producers in India and China is holding back the continent’s manufacturing sector.

Fight fakes

Moyo also said the lack of cross border harmonization on registration, intra and inter-regional barriers to the movement of medicines and the large number of counterfeits on pharmacy shelves across the continent as other factors preventing the growth of Africa’s drug sector.

Self-sufficiency in healthcare is important for economic growth, for that reason it is dangerous to be dependent on others. We subscribe to the thesis that industrial development is critical to the economic growth of Africa.  Hence the infrastructural problems of Africa should be addressed.  This can only be done by directly confronting them rather than giving up and abdicating our future to others.”

She also suggested that increase local production will have an impact on the fight against fake drugs.

An Africa-based industry that has developed to meet the needs for quality-assured medicines at affordable prices will leave very little room for infiltration by counterfeit and fake medicines.”

Industry input

Industry involvement in the implementation of the UNIDO plan is vital according to Moyo, who said that engaging with the African Union is also critical.

The basic tenet of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing plan for Africa is to strengthen the pharmaceutical industry to meet the needs for medicines in Africa. It is thus the Africa-based industry that must own the plan.  This is why the AU will listen to an organization that represents the industry and is in a position to delineate problems, impediments and opportunities.”

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