QCIL expands ARV capabilities in bid to build in East African market

By Natalie Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Antiretroviral drug

Ugandan drugs maker Quality Chemical Industries Ltd (QCIL) is ready to manufacture HIV treatment Tenofovir in a bid to dominate the local antiretroviral market.

The plant, licensed by Indian firm CIPLA, has completed the first part of its $50m (€36.8m) revamp, which allows it to produce 1.8bn of the one a day antiretroviral (ARV) tablets per year.

Phase two of its expansion – which is due to begin this December – will provide the capacity to make 7.2bn tablets per year in a 24 hour shift.

The Chief Commercial Officer, George Baguma said the company hopes its expansions will allow it to become a leading force for ARV production within the entire East African community (EAC). He also said that with very little competition locally, the firm is hopeful of its success.

He told in-PharmaTechnologist: “QCIL is only the 3rd World Health Organization (WHO) pre-qualified plant in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Levelling the playing field

Though the businesses’ capabilities are rare in the local area, it does face stiff competition from firms who import ARVs.

Edwin Kwesiga, QCIL marketing manager, recently appealed to the EAC ministry to consider imposing a tax on imported medicines from countries who subsidize their exports.

He told in-PharmaTechnologist: “The reason for discussion is that many contractors in India and China have generous export subsidiaries from their governments.

“Manufacturers in Africa don’t have the same support from the government. Leveling out the playing fields would allow us to compete against these companies.”

Beguma estimated that QCIL provides around half of all ARV drugs in Uganda.

CMO ambitions

Through the new capacities, QCIL plan to move into contract manufacturing.

According to Kwesiga, with the new technology, the firm already has the capacity handle outsourcing from big pharma companies looking to produce drugs at a cheap cost.

However he believes this will be further down the line, as the company is focusing not only on ARVs, but also on floating its shares once phase two of the expansion is complete.

Kwesiga added: “We will go public within the next two – three years. It will allow us become bigger players on the market.

“First of all we’ll float locally on the Ugandan market, then in Johannesburg.

“We may move into contract manufacturing at some stage too, for instance with the likes of GSK who would pay us to manufacture drugs at a cheap cost.

“We’re in discussions with some companies, but we aren’t contract manufacturing just yet.”

Related topics: Ingredients

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