Last week, Africa’s largest drugmaker announced plans to spend R3.4bn ($231m) on sterile anaesthetic manufacturing capabilities in Port Elizabeth, on South Africa’s Eastern Cape. According to Aspen, the production of sterile anaesthetics represents a ‘niche’ and ‘high tech’ capability, with domestic and export opportunities.
“The ongoing investment in our Port Elizabeth site will transform it into one of the world’s leading global hubs for anaesthetic products and will provide a tremendous economic boost for the Eastern Cape, one of the country’s most economically challenged provinces,” said Aspen’s senior executive, Stavros Nicolaou, at the South African President’s inaugural investment conference last week.
According to Nicolaou, Aspen’s expansion – which the company described as ‘South Africa’s single biggest pharmaceutical investment’ – echoes the “positive sentiment” from President Cyril Ramaphosa who, in April this year, announced plans to source $100bn for investment in South Africa’s economy.
“The President’s commitment to establishing a more predictable, stable investment environment and reducing regulatory burden in key economic sectors, such as the pharmaceutical sector, is very encouraging,” said Nicolaou.
However, Nicolaou also drew delegates’ attention to the fact that unnamed ‘regulatory hurdles’ exist in the country’s pharma industry: “Our latest investment undertaking is a clear vote of confidence in the President’s commitment to resolving these hurdles and establishing a more conducive investment climate in the sector, bringing with it the momentum for further pharmaceutical investments.”