There is a significantly large growth opportunity and the region’s manufacturers are able to meet but only 30% of the demand in the pharmaceutical industry leaving the remaining 70% for imports. Raising of capital to improve product quality has been the limiting factor for most of these local producers.
The $5 billion East African pharmaceutical industry is expected to grow by 12% per annum over the next five years. This is because as the lifestyle of people change, the rate of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes escalates.
According to Christopher Spennemann of UNCTAD’s program “The biggest challenge facing local producers is the lack of capital they need to invest in improving product quality.” However, boosting this production requires foreign investors, but national drug laws within these region has to be loosened for investors to be able to fully penetrate. These include Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Investors want to be sure that a drug approved in one country can be sold in all five. Also, the possibility of this happening any moment is a challenge. Although, feasibility studies is ongoing, drug regulatory departments must be willing to progress on this to help facilitate better trade and flow of production and supply within the region. Mr. Spennemann furthered to explain that policy formulation should be prioritize within the region, especially in the fields of trade policies, research and development, among others. Considering that health care to rural settlement is an issue of national and political interests, it is essential that the region help local pharmaceutical companies.