NatPharm cures pharma headache 

Source: NatPharm cures pharma headache | The Sunday Mail November 18, 2018

Rumbidzai Muparutsa
Pharmaceutical companies say Government’s $60 million recapitalisation of NatPharm to make it the major supplier of drugs to Zimbabwe’s health institutions will increase uptake of products from their factories and spur production.

NatPharm is the Health and Child Care Ministry’s drug procurement, warehousing and distribution arm.

In the October 28, 2018 instalment of his column in The Sunday Mail, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said his administration – working with partners such as the Indian government – was reviving NatPharm as part of the broader objective of providing efficient and affordable healthcare.

Last week, Varichem Pharmaceuticals MD Mr Alois Muchabaiwa said, “In an ideal situation, more than 50 percent of the production by local manufacturers is taken up by Government.

“Therefore, in the absence of consistent and substantial Government business, there may not be a big enough market to take up the output of producing at 100 percent capacity utilisation.”

The firm, one of the biggest in the sector, is operating at 70 percent capacity and relying mostly on export orders.

Varichem produces more than 129 product lines from its two manufacturing plants, with stocking levels at 92 percent.

It used to be the only company in Sub-Saharan Africa producing generic three-in-one generic ARVs, but this has since been overtaken by changes in treatment guidelines, patent issues and a volatile economic environment.

Mr Muchabaiwa said import substitution through local manufacturing would cut Zimbabwe’s import bill and improve availability of affordable medicines.

“Government needs to use the scarce foreign currency more efficiently by ensuring that as long as a product can be manufactured locally, that product is not to be imported.

“Foreign currency for imported content should be sustainably availed to local manufacturers and only products that cannot be manufactured can then be imported,” Mr Muchabaiwa said.

“Also, Government can also follow the example set by other countries in the region who have effective price preferential for local manufacturers in all Government purchases,” Mr Muchabaiwa said.

Varichem exports to South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Mauritius, Malawi and Zambia.

Meanwhile, CAPS Pharmaceuticals is increasing its production lines from 24 to 110 by mid-2019.

“We were only licensed to produce 24 products but we have been licensed to increase to 110 products by mid-next year.

“We are going to introduce morphine tablets, diclofenac tablets, HCT tablets, and co-codamol amongst other essential pharmaceutical products and drugs.”

CAPS will introduce 12 essential drugs.