Sub-Saharan Africa

Life Sciences in Africa with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa

The African pharmaceutical industry is largely undeveloped, both from a manufacturing and innovation point of view. The supply of African pharmaceuticals remains highly dependent on foreign funding and imports, and around 70% of pharmaceutical products consumed in Africa are imported. The pharmaceutical industry is mostly composed of small, privately owned companies that serve their national markets. Next to major market-leading multinationals such as Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, which traditionally have had a strong presence in the continent, a diverse mix of drug manufacturers have made significant inroads in recent years. Africa now hosts some of the leading global innovators and generic manufacturers. Starwin in Ghana, Saidal in Algeria, Universal in Kenya, and Aspen (one of the top 10 generic manufacturers in the world) in South Africa are home grown manufacturers. In some pockets of the continent, predominantly in North Africa and in South Africa, the status of local manufacturing of pharmaceutical products has gained a sturdy foothold. In 2011, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco accounted for more than half of the continent’s pharmaceutical sales.

South Africa has a relatively well-developed pharmaceutical industry, which consists of manufacturers, distributors and dispensers forming the supply-chain. South African researchbased pharmaceutical companies that previously belonged to either Innovative Medicines SA (IMSA) or the Pharmaceutical Industry Association of South Africa (PIASA), integrated to form a new association named the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association South Africa (IPASA) in April 2013. This created a single entity representing 25 leading pharmaceutical companies operating in South Africa. IPASA currently represents approximately 43% of the pharmaceutical private sector in the country. Overall, 37 African countries have some pharmaceutical production. Significant production capacity is being developed and enriched in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Nigeria, while Mozambique has recently commissioned an antiretroviral plant with the help of Brazil.

Pharmaceutical Imports

Almost 80% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s pharmaceutical imports during 2010-13 were classified as medication (including antibiotics and vitamins) packed for retail use. This share of imports climbed to 83.3% when including medication in bulk. The remainder of pharmaceutical imports is comprised of vaccines and antiserums (11.7%), contraceptives, sutures and first-aid supplies (3.5%), and gauze, bandages and other dressings (1.6%). From a global perspective, all-country imports during the four-year period comprised 72.8% in packaged medication and 75.5% when adding bulk medicines, 20.1% in vaccines and antiserums, some 3% in contraceptives, sutures and first-aid supplies, and 1.4% in gauze, bandages and other dressings. The only major discrepancy is Sub-Saharan Africa’s tendency to buy more remedial medicines (83.3% vs. 75.5%) and less preventative vaccines and serums (11.7% vs. 20.1%) as a share of its pharmaceutical imports compared to the rest of the world. This suggests that SSA is more reactive than proactive when it comes to health matters.

SSA Pharmaceutical Imports

SSA Pharmaceutical Imports

South Africa (the continent’s most developed economy and second-largest after Nigeria) is the largest importer of pharmaceuticals, accounting for 28% of SSA pharmaceutical imports during 2012-13. This is about equal in size to the imports recorded by Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda, and Tanzania combined. When also adding Cameroon, the DRC and Angola, these top 10 countries accounted for two-thirds of Sub-Saharan Africa’s pharmaceutical imports.

The above is an excerpt from our sector report on Life Sciences in Africa with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, please feel free to download.

David Okwara

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