Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
Stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry said yesterday that there is a need for the country to support local pharmaceutical manufacturers to tackle the bad practices facing the industry.
In separate interviews with The Herald yesterday following revelations that there were cartels and businessmen in charge of the industry, leading to the prevalence of price distortions in the market, different stakeholders agreed that local production of medicines could be the panacea for the current price frenzy. experienced in the sector.
Zimbabwe Medicines Control Authority (MCAZ) spokesperson Mr. Richard Rukwata said there was no reason the country was importing basic commodities such as intravenous fluids and pain relievers, while they could be made locally.
He said the current situation where the bulk of pharmaceuticals are imported brings a lot of complexity to the cost of the products with each different level of distribution.
“There is a need to prioritize the production of medicines that can be manufactured locally to alleviate some of the challenges currently facing the pharmaceutical industry,” said Mr. Rukwata.
He said MCAZ was helping local manufacturers develop systems that meet internationally recognized standards so that they can also compete in the international market with manufacturers from other countries.
He revealed that previously, local manufacturers supplied around 60 percent of the country’s drugs.
Commenting on the issue of cartels, Mr Rukwata acknowledged that there were agents with an exclusive concession of products from certain manufacturers, but was quick to point out that there were also products with alternatives provided by others. manufacturers.
He admitted, however, that some products had little competition, but blamed some manufacturers for not doing enough research on other rapidly evolving products to provide much-needed competition.
He said the current regulatory processes, which some sections have labeled as taxing and contributing to the pricing of finished products, were necessary and standard across the pharmaceutical industry elsewhere.
Pharmaceutical Wholesalers of Zimbabwe President Kuda Chapfika also echoed the idea of supporting the local industry, but stressed the need to ensure they meet international standards.
Although he dismissed cartels as non-existent in the pharmaceutical sector, Mr. Chapfika defended exclusive concession agreements as professional relationships between manufacturers and distributors.
“The issue of the concession also arises from the fact that manufacturers would like to deal with one or two distributors in each country, to ensure that the product can be traced and that ultimately the patient can be protected. This practice of selected distributors is not unique to Zimbabwe, as it is also a common practice in the rest of the African pharmaceutical markets, as well as in the European markets, ”said Mr. Chapfika. He said this is done to ensure product quality is traceable and not compromised throughout the distribution chain. He added that the price of products in the current configuration was determined by the total costs incurred by a wholesaler to bring a product to market, plus a profit margin of no more than 40%.
Zimbabwe Consumers Council Executive Director Rosemary Siyachitema expressed concern about the high prices of all commodities in the country, including medicines.