Kenya launches drugs manufacturing plant to ease imports

Kenya on Monday launched a 75 million U.S. dollar plant to manufacture essential medicine amid a drive to tame a rising import bill estimated at 600 million dollars annually.

Adan Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, said the plant to be set up by Bangladesh-based Square Pharmaceuticals Limited is expected to reduce the cost of drugs and boost health care services in the country.

“The construction of a local pharmaceutical manufacturing plant will bring significant industrial benefits such as technology transfer and improve access to quality medicine to combat our rising disease burden,” said Mohamed.

He revealed that the plant to be located on the outskirts of the capital Nairobi will produce 2 billion tablets and 60 million bottles of liquid medicine annually for the local market and for export across the region.

He noted the Kenyan government has come up with regulatory incentives to attract investments in the pharmaceutical industry, whose growth has stagnated against a backdrop of under-financing and skills gap.

According to Mohamed, the local manufacturing sector can only meet 28 percent of demand for essential medicine to treat communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis as well as lifestyle diseases that have spiked in recent times.

“We now have 35 registered drugs manufacturing company in the country and intends to attract additional investments in this sector to achieve the goal of universal health coverage,” said Mohamed.

Tapan Chowdhury, Managing Director of Square Pharmaceuticals, said 50 percent of pharmaceutical products to be manufactured at the Nairobi plant will be exported in the regional market.

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