India is among the fastest growing pharmaceutical markets in the world, establishing itself as a global manufacturing and research hub.
About 15% of their pharmaceutical exports arrive in Africa. In South Africa, generic anti-retrovirals (ARVs) from India have dropped the cost of treatment for millions. Of these millions, many have the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Adcock Ingram is a pharmaceutical African giant, manufacturing their own drugs, but when AIDS became a pandemic in Africa, they had to find a cheaper source and India was the logical choice.
About two decades ago, first-line treatment for ARVs was about $500.00 [£388.45], but the availability of generics, saw the price go down to about $10.00 [£7.77]. This effectively meant that more people could get onto treatment.
For some, $10.00-a-month is steep, however it’s a price that African governments can afford to subsidise.
Bringing generic medicines from India has not always been easy. There have been concerns about trademarks, quality and the effectiveness of some of the drugs.
Godfrey Keele of South African Generics Medicines Association (SAGMA) says “there are efforts currently to ensure that there is harmonisation, at least from a regulatory point of view. Through a ZAZIBONA initiative, you are able to log one application that can actually have acceptability in different countries”.
ZAZIBONA initiative is a collaboration between national medicines regulatory authorities (NMRAs) in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
These are four neighbouring countries in Southern Africa which have a combined population of around 34 million. This initiative may be extended to include participation by other interested SADC Member States.
It has been reported that by the year 2020, the African pharmaceutical industry will be worth $40billion or more.
Thus, companies are searching for mergers and acquisitions in the sector, and India is leading the charge.
Photo Credit: stevepb