Imports ruin local drugs firms

Cough syrup

Imports ruin local drugs firms

THE country’s reliance on imported drugs has ruined local medicine producers, a leading player in the industry has said, warning of far reaching consequences unless steps are taken to address the situation.
Datlabs, one of the country’s largest personal care products and drugs producers, says Zimbabwean firms supplied only seven percent of the drugs to the local market that distributed US$325 million worth of drugs last year.
The seven percent represents about US$25 million worth of drugs supplied by Zimbabwean firms, with global producers selling US$300 million to the local market.
“We can supply 60 percent of medicines registered in this country,” said Datlabs marketing director, Clever Mugadza.
Government has been receiving most of its drugs as donations from humanitarian agencies such as the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief and the Department of International Development.
The donor countries procure drugs manufactured in their local industries, leaving firms like Datlabs in Zimbabwe in a precarious situation.
Statistics indicate that more than 90 percent of drugs received by public hospitals are coming from donors.
“Right now, government is relying on donor funds,” Mugadza told a conference to encourage the procurement of local products.
“The EU (European Union) used to give tenders to the local industry to produce drugs but now we are importing from other countries,” he said.
The country’s industries have been battling to compete with imported products, which generally land in Zimbabwe at lower prices, even after factoring in duties and shipping costs.
The high cost of production in Zimbabwe and exorbitant interest rates prevailing in the banking industry have made the country’s products uncompetitive on the global markets.
Government says it is looking into the issue of high production costs, but action has been long overdue, and, in the meantime, hundreds of firms have closed down while workers have lost jobs.
Significant tenders have been awarded to Chinese and Indian firms, leaving local contractors without jobs.
Before 2000, the local pharmaceutical industry used to supply more than 75 percent of the country’s essential drug requirements.
However, this dropped to 35 percent in the past few years, before dropping further to last year’s seven percent.
Drug producers have asked government to look into the crisis.
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