Government puts import controls on 23 pharmaceutical medicines

antiretroviral drugs

Government estimated that the pharmaceuticals industry requires US$80 million to fund operations.

In an effort to boost the local pharmaceutical industry, Government has put import controls on 23 pharmaceutical medicines.

The industry, which employs over 1 000 people is made up of about nine companies but operations have been constrained by the current economic condition and the influx of imported drugs some of which are smuggled into the country. The sector has also been struggling to breakthrough in regional markets as some of the countries have stringent licencing conditions, which subsequently make the products uncompetitive.

Industry Minister Mike Bimha said the move to put controls would boost local industry as the medicines that were gazetted are available locally.

The controls were gazetted under statutory instrument 18 of 2016. The drugs which are on the list include Aspirin and Caffeine tablets or capsules, Cotrimoxazole suspension, syrup or dry granules, Cotrimoxazole tablets, Ibuprofen tablets or capsules, Metformin, Metronidazole, Erythromyein Capsules or tables, Paracetamol and Codeine Tablets, Paracetamol syrup, Amoxicillin capsules, Amoxicillin granules, Cloxacillin capsules or tabs, Maintelyte with Dextrose (Glucose) Intravenous (IV) Infusion fluid.

Minister Bimha however said the controls apply only to those products that are brought into the country formally. “The problem with those who smuggle the products into the country due to the porous border posts remains. However Government is currently working on ways to improve border surveillance and the Minister of Home Affairs will soon make an announcement on the measures being taken.”

Last year, Government estimated that the pharmaceuticals industry requires US$80 million to fund operations.

Analysts have however said that more still needs to be done to boost the local industry. “Competition from cheaper pharmaceutical producing countries are a major constraint in the sector. However Government should not restrict its actions to just controls they should help revive the industry by giving the companies preferential treatment in public procurement as naturally they are the biggest customers,” said an analyst. FinX

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