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National Export Strategy Tackles Cheap Pharmaceutical Influx

Chief Executive Officer of GEPA, Afua Asabea Asare

Government is set to develop policies that will curtail the influx of low-cost pharmaceuticals in order to raise market shares of locally produced pharmaceutical products in the country.

The policies, which also seek to boost the local capacity utilization of pharmaceutical companies, form part of interventions under the National Export Development Strategy (NEDS) which has a target of increasing the revenue from export of pharmaceutical products from a projected $4 million in 2020 to $48 million in 2029.

Interventions also focus on making companies more competitive through the adoption of cost reduction strategies that are enabled with the provision of incentives to companies that opt for the manufacturing of local pharmaceuticals against importation of foreign ones.

The NEDS, which was launched in October this year, also intends to leverage on the goodwill of Ghanaian Pharmaceutical products in the West African sub-region to encourage local companies to establish and operate wholly owned subsidiaries in target markets.

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Technical and financial support will also be provided for the upgrading of existing factories as well as new ones to meet the General Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification and the World Health Organization (WHO) prequalification status for sensitive and essential pharmaceuticals.

An analysis of the pharmaceutical industry by the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) had shown that a significant proportion of drugs used in the West African sub-region are domiciled in Ghana while the attainment of GMP certification and WHO prequalification status has enabled most local companies to partake in international competitive tenders.

On the other hand, the sector is faced with challenges such as high cost of local manufacturing, inadequate local technical expertise for high technology products, low investment in Pharmaceutical Research and Development, inadequate access to capital and high borrowing cost and high under -utilization of capacity which on the average is about 55 per cent.

According to the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), there are about 38 registered pharmaceutical manufacturers in the country with 243 national or regional wholesalers, 2,400 licenced pharmacies, 42 members of Association of Representatives of Ethical Pharmaceutical Industries (AREPI) and an estimated 18,000 licenced Over the Counter (OTC) medicine sellers in the country.

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Local manufacturers however own 30 per cent of market share while 70 per cent of pharmaceutical products used in the country are imported, with most of the imports coming from China and India.

Operation in Ghana’s pharmaceutical industry are either of a purely local manufacturing model—a model of importation where finished products are imported and distributed nationwide through local distributors or a hybrid model of manufacturing locally, import and distribute products from international principals.

By Issah Mohammed

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