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Drugs firm to pump Sh7.5 billion into new manufacturing plant at EPZ

By Lee Mwiti | January 9th 2018
An African-American hand holds three pills. Background has two pills bottles and two other types of medicine. [Photo: Courtesy]

Asian drug firm Square Pharmaceuticals plans to pump Sh7.5 billion into a new manufacturing plant that it is constructing at the export processing zone in Athi River.

While presiding over the groundbreaking ceremony on Monday, Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed said Square Pharmaceuticals has been allocated 16 acres by the State for the factory.

“Companies within the EPZ currently produce Sh70 billion worth of exports, compared to Sh48 billion in 2015. This kind of investment from Square is going to increase the exports further,” he said.

“We also want them to bring their apparel business to Kenya since they are also quite big in apparel in Bangladesh,” he added.

Mr Mohamed said local pharmaceutical manufacturers are only able to supply 30 per cent of the total demand in the region.

Import growth

“It is sad that 70 per cent of our supply is imported. As a country we have been seeing regular import growth, which averaged 11.5 per cent in the past three years, of medicinal products. It is time, with partners such as Square Pharmaceuticals, we handled this growth,” he said.

Tapan Chowdhury, the managing director of the Bangladesh-owned company, said the new plant would have the capacity to manufacture two billion tablets and 69 million bottles of liquid medicine annually.

The plant will concentrate on production of drugs for non-communicable diseases, which are on the rise in Kenya. These include diabetes, cardiovascular, and psychotic diseases.

It will also manufacture drugs for the treatment of malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/Aids.

“Our objective is to manufacture and supply certain World Health Organisation pre-qualified drugs, non-antibiotics, and antibiotics in this plant,” said Mr Chowdhury.

“Square is supplying medicines to the regulated markets of Europe and America. Our plan is to expand to Europe and America from this plant in Kenya,” he added.

The first phase of the investment would be Sh2.5 billion. Another Sh5 billion would be injected in the second phase, said Chowdhury.

Mohamed said 150 companies were operating in Kenya’s export processing zones and that the State was mulling a long-term plan to increase the number in line with the goal of revamping the manufacturing sector.

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